If you already have a travel provider, here are some questions that you should be asking. The onus is on you to ask penetrating questions to protect your travelers and your institution.
Question: Does the operator have a travel license? And if so, under what regulatory board? You should make sure that the travel provider you use is in fact properly licensed to offer travel services both nationally and internationally.
BT Answer: We are licensed by TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario) Registration #4477196 allowing us to legally operate trips all over the world.
Question: What kind of insurance coverage does the company have? Does it have any at all? Ask for physical proof of coverage rather than just a verbal assurance.
BT Answer: We are fully insured for up to $10 million per incident and happy to provide the documents that show this.
Question: How many staff work for the company? So many "one-man" operations make it appear that they have a big support staff by using vague terms such as "Our Team". But if there are only one or two people working at the company, what happens if they have a personal tragedy, sickness or injury? You are left without an operator.
BT Answer: We have 11 full-time staff and a crew of 10 part-time experts that we can call on if needed.
Question: Does the operator make arrangements for your trip directly or does it work with a local ground operator in the chosen destination? If you're dealing with a US-only-based company which then has to pay a ground operator to arrange and run the program, you are not only paying extra for an intermediary but also encouraging general inefficiency.
BT Answer: We have offices on both sides of the Atlantic with staff speaking 8 languages. We handle all aspects of the trip from beginning to end directly with the suppliers. This is more efficient, results in better quality and saves money.
Question: Who will administer your trip here in the USA? If you're dealing with a foreign company, what about all the important issues that crop up every day for your travelers? Before and after-trip issues and the ongoing information flow? Who will handle the trip administration, payment, mailings and inquiries? Who will collect the travelers' program fees? (In some states it is illegal for the institution to do so.) You don't want to spend all your time doing these tasks. You have an institution to run!
BT Answer: Our North American office at the end of an 800-line handles all these issues and many more while you concentrate on your job.
Question: What kind of support does the company offer to help publicize your trip to members?
BT Answer: We create a trip website for you as well as a printed trip synopsis and any other desired material. Please ask to see samples.
Question: What kind of on-trip information is provided to the travelers?
BT Answer: We create a personalized handbook for each trip. Please ask to see samples.Please deal seriously with the above issues and any others that occur to you. Your important donors are counting on you.