Call: (800) 508-9133

AVB Travel & Tour…Experience the Service®
1548 Palos Verdes Mall
Walnut Creek, CA 94597
Tel  925.977.4034  Fax 925.977.4052
CST 2037858-40

SF Chronicle cites AVB Travel as one of the top ten agencies in the Bay Area.

Finding the right travel agent

Updated 4:23 pm, Saturday, May 4, 2013

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The Internet has changed every industry, none more than the travel business. Today, you can log on to travel sites that check other travel sites, find lodging and services in faraway places, and read no shortage of opinions by amateur critics - if you want to. But if you want help, a travel agent can help do the heavy lifting.

A good travel agent can supply personal knowledge and advice about particular destinations, have access to special deals, provide advice on needed travel documents and other practical details, and may have leverage and know-how to help straighten out any travel snafus.

Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook evaluated 62 area agencies, surveying customers on their experience. Many agencies were rated "superior" on "overall performance" by 90 percent or more of their survey customers. But others were much less favorably rated, and Checkbook received feedback that indicates that some agencies may be more trouble than they're worth.

If you're looking for an agent, talk to family, friends and co-workers for a recommendation. If possible, talk to more than one agent - look for one who has expertise in your planned destination(s). Sometimes a larger agency provides a better chance of connecting you with someone who has the particular knowledge you need.

Beyond that, here's what to look for in an agent:

-- Prompt, responsive service - a good agent will be on top of every detail and in frequent contact with you. Switch agents if response times are slow, proposed flights fail to meet specified travel constraints, descriptions of destinations don't match your experience, or other details are missed.

-- Qualification as a certified travel consultant. To be certified, an agent must have five years' experience in the industry, complete an educational program, pass an exam and meet continuing education requirements.

If you use an agency, you will generally end up having to pay the agency fees. That's because airlines no longer pay commissions to agents (except for corporate travel). Agencies do receive commissions on hotel bookings (typically 5 to 10 percent, although only about half of hotels pay them), cruises (10 percent or more), car rentals (2 to 5 percent), and tour-operator packages (10 percent or more).

Agents typically charge $30 to $50 to book a domestic flight, $30 to $100 for an international flight, up to $100 for a cruise, and about $100 per hour for research and planning advice. To avoid surprises, always ask in advance what the fees are.

Those fees can be at least partially offset by savings if your agent digs for the best prices. For example, agencies should search for consolidator airfares, and push hotels for special promotions. Also, using an agency will enable you to pay with a credit card for some reservations where that would not otherwise be possible; that means you can protest the charge with your credit card company if you don't get the promised accommodations or service.

The Chronicle is partnering with Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook magazine and, a nonprofit consumer group that rates various types of local service firms and professionals, to help you find the best services in the Bay Area. Chronicle readers can read Checkbook's full article with advice on selecting and dealing with a travel agency, and (for the next four weeks) use Checkbook's listing of 62 Bay Area travel agencies, free of charge, at







1580 Chabot Court


(510) 670-4380


2055 Meridian Park Blvd.


(925) 808-6201

AVB Travel

1548 Palos Verdes Mall

Walnut Creek

(925) 977-4034

Berkeley Northside Travel

1824 Euclid Ave.


(510) 843-1000

Cardoza Bungey Travel Service

550 Hamilton Ave. No. 125

Palo Alto

(650) 325-5600

Cruise Adventures Unlimited

1610 Locust St.

Walnut Creek

(925) 935-7447

Estill International Travel

4546 El Camino Real No. B10

Los Altos

(650) 948-6027

Fugazi Travel Agency

170 Grant Ave. Fl. 4

San Francisco

(415) 397-7111

Great China International

950 Stockton St. No. 406

San Francisco

(415) 981-4210


Travel Advisors of Los Gatos

56 N. Santa Cruz Ave.

Los Gatos

(408) 354-6531

Source: Consumers' Checkbook

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