Far too often, travel agents and agencies don’t do their homework. Failure to physically inspect and evaluate the quality of resorts is a crucial mistake that could cost companies customers. Travelers are not naive; there’s more information out there today than there ever was, thanks to the all-powerful internet review. Customers are just one click away from seemingly everything they need to know about the state of the resort, the kind of people who work there, and if it indeed lives up to expectations.
What could you tell them that they couldn’t already know? The only way to give travelers the valuable information they need to decide on a trip is your clear, personal testimony and recommendation.
Ultimate Dive Travel walks – or instead, journeys – a mile in your shoes. We visit and dive these locations ourselves to know the exact level of service and authenticity our customers will experience. We only partner with resorts that meet or exceed a specific set of criteria based on our years of working with customers and learning what is most important to them. What is non-negotiable for our travelers is non-negotiable for us. Frankly, that’s the way it should be.
Here are some aspects Ultimate Dive Travel makes a point to investigate before signing on with a resort or liveaboard provider.
The principal feature we grade resorts and liveaboards on is safety. Safety and security are imperative; guests should feel their surroundings, staff, and equipment protect them from potential harm and enhance their experience. You cannot ensure that a diving operation is meeting necessary safety standards without first visiting the location and giving it a test run. Ultimate Dive Travel assures every resort and liveaboard operates according to international standards and our own safety qualifiers as a travel company. Resorts and travel coordinators are required to notify guests of possible risks associated with their trip. Once guests agree and sign off, both parties have a duty to honor safety procedures.
The diving boats must pass specific quality guidelines for running a smooth and efficient diving operation. The boat has to be in good condition (quantified by current/past damage, repairs, engine function/warranty, etc.) with ample space for divers, their gear, and their camera equipment, including rinse tanks for underwater cameras. However, a larger vessel is not automatically more suitable for divers. There are smaller boats that optimize the space they have more practically than larger boats, while the reverse is also true. It depends on which boat’s square footage is more fitting to the type of excursions it hosts.
3. Dive Master Etiquette & Knowledge
When you’re venturing to foreign countries, things could get lost in translation if you’re not careful. We make sure the Dive Master speaks English well so divers can understand pre-dive briefings. Also, is he/she equipped with necessary medical knowledge in case of crises? Is there oxygen on board for emergencies? Does the crew know how to administer oxygen? We thankfully don’t encounter this feeling often, but if we felt the staff wasn’t prepared to take care of guests, we would not recommend that particular resort.
Comfort is key. Comfort level is something that is noticeable the second a guest steps on board. The rooms at resorts or cabins on liveaboards must be clean: bedrooms, bathrooms, and any shared spaces. Moreover, the A/C and plumbing should be working correctly and hot water should be readily accessible for washing. These are essential needs that any individual would expect, but part of our job is to confirm their presence so you don’t find out the hard way later on.
What about other online travel companies?
As great as the internet is for companies to promote and conduct business, it provides a cop-out for companies to appear credible but hide under the guise of fancy websites or the sheer amount of options available. Having options is a luxury, but only when they’re good options. Most times, this massive database of resorts and fair prices is hiding something key: verified experience. How could a company sell something and preach its wonderfulness when none of its staff has been to the resort or on the liveaboard ever? It would actually be pretty amazing if some of these online companies traveled to even 5-10% of the hundreds of liveaboards or resorts on their websites.
BUT, HOW CAN YOU KNOW IF THEY’RE LEGIT AT FIRST GLANCE?
It’s a gamble unless you’re well-versed in some of these tactics. Luckily, we can set the record straight.
If you’re searching travel companies and find one that lists tons of places in every country, this should be a red flag that they have not visited the vast majority of these places. Do they prompt you to send your money overseas? You should not have to send your hard-earned money overseas to book a trip! Once your money leaves the country, you are now at the mercy of whoever is receiving it. In most cases, you’ll be paying up to 100 times the cost of your trip to fight or sue a company for its dishonesty!
It comes down to honesty and integrity. You want to work with a company that remains transparent and upholds quality at every touchpoint, no matter if you’re dealing with them in person, over the phone, or over email.