This post is also available in: French
Spring is here! And at Nicely Made in China (NMiC) it’s around this time of year that we get itchy feet! A trip, be it on horseback in far flung lands or a stay at auntie’s beach bungalow, needs careful preparation: tickets have to be booked and the right clothes have to be packed. We spoke to NMiC’s partner Serge Pierrard, CEO of Beijing-based Travel Stone (travel agency specialised in the Far-East and China) about the dos and don’ts for a memorable trip.
Serge, what’s the first thing you do when you prepare for a holiday?
Something very basic but often forgotten – I check that my passport is valid and that it remains so for 6 months after I enter the country I’m visiting! As travel agents we’ve heard too many stories of holidays ruined for that simple reason.
How we arrange our travel has changed dramatically in recent years. How do travel agents add value to travellers’ experiences these days?
A well travelled backpacker may not need the services of a travel agent but in most other cases – booking a holiday or just a ticket – an agency can be a good idea. If something is not right – the view from your hotel room is not the one you hoped for – or you miss your flight we will help find a solution and help you feel less alone. Another advantage is that an agent helps you choose the type of holiday that suits you: we know the hotels, airlines, car rental companies, etc.. we won’t send a honeymoon couple to a hotel catering for large families! I would also like to add that contrary to common belief, travel agents more often than not get better prices than travellers when they buy directly.
But how can I make sure that I select the right travel agent? What should I look out for?
There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re dealing with real professionals: a quick Google search on the names of the owners of the agency should give you a good idea who you’re dealing with. Then find out if someone in the agency has been to that part of the world you intend to visit. It’s always reassuring to know that the person you’re talking to has actually been there too. The fact that the agency has partners at your destination, as well as an emergency number reachable 24/7 is also very important.
What other advice can you give our readers that will help ensure great holidays?
The list of things to think about before leaving is endless – that’s why I write lists which read like a poem by Prévert: check weather forecast before leaving in order to pack the right clothes, keep all boarding passes until you return home – you never know when you might need to prove you were on a certain flight, always carry a health insurance card as well as photocopies of your passport, buy a local sim card – it’s a lot cheaper than using the home mobile number, reconfirm return flights and last but not the least, do not leave home without good travel insurance – if you’ve paid with a credit card, chances are that insurance is included – but it’s always worth checking.
Travel Stone website: www.travel-stone.com
Please read the interview Serge Pierrard gave Nicely Made in China (NMiC) last July!