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What Is a Travel Consolidator?

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A travel consolidator is a company that is able to obtain airline tickets, hotel reservations, and car rentals for very low prices, either via a contract or by purchasing them in bulk. The consolidator then turns around and sells these products to travel agents, although some companies will sell them directly to the traveler. Typically, these businesses are targeted to niche markets, usually focusing on specific destinations or a certain class of traveler. Consolidators can offer the bargain traveler great deals, but there are certain things to be aware of when dealing with these types of companies. Here’s some information on travel consolidators and things to be wary of if you purchase tickets and other travel products from them.

Travel Consolidator Tips

If you decide to go with a travel consolidator, you first need to do some background checking to be sure the company is reputable. Start with the Better Business Bureau, and then check for membership in trade organization such as the American Society of Travel Agents. Use a credit card for the purchase, as this will give you some recourse if you run into problems with the company. Finally, be sure to confirm your reservation with the airline, hotel, or car rental company well before you’re set to travel, so you can be sure your purchase was legit.

Things to Be Aware of When Using a Travel Consolidator

Unlike a travel agent, whose primary focus is customer service, many travel consolidators tend to be limited when it comes to staffing. Thus, it may be difficult for you to get the same caliber of customer service you need to make the travel arrangements you desire. However, it's important you ask questions so you understand the parameters of what the company is offering. For instance, if you need to change your travel plans at any time, some travel consolidators won’t offer you much in terms of flexibility. In fact, fees for changing an itinerary can be very steep. Also be aware that sometimes you won't be able to make an advanced seat selection or make special requests of the hotel. Finally, purchases through a consolidator are often not eligible for frequent flier miles or other frequent customer promotions, so if you travel often, this may not be your best bet.

A travel consolidator does offer you a budget-friendly option when planning a trip. But always be sure you know what you're getting into before making your purchase.

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