State Department Says Travel Agents Can Help Keep Clients Safe

by Richard D’Ambrosio

While most travel agents and travelers look to the U.S. State Department for travel alerts, travel warnings and emergency passports, the State Department provides a number of services both parties can use.

The American Society of Travel Agents recently held an informational webinar reminding agents of some less well-known services they can share with customers.

1. The STEP program
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Travelers then receive important information about safety conditions in the destination country, and helps the U.S. Embassy, as well as their family and friends, contact them in an emergency.

First-time users should create a bio online. After that, travelers simply only need to load their travel information, or their travel agent can enroll them.

2. Travel alerts and travel warnings
Most people are generally aware that the U.S. government issues alerts and warnings, but it’s helpful to know the difference. Travel Warnings are issued when the U.S. government wants travelers to strongly consider whether they should be traveling to a country at all. They are issued for reasons like an unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks.

Travel Alerts are issued when there are short-term events individuals should know about when planning travel to a country, including strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of zika; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks.

3. Security and emergency messages
U.S. embassies frequently issue messages via the State Department’s blog regarding events like demonstrations that might impact travel to a given city. Advise travelers to save the URL on their smartphones.

4. Aid in case of arrest or detention      
The state department will contact family, friends, and/or employers of a detained U.S. citizen with their written permission. It will visit the detained citizen regularly and provide reading materials and vitamin supplements, where appropriate; ensure prison officials are providing appropriate medical care; and provide a general overview of the local criminal justice process.

The Dept. of State also can establish an “OCS Trust” so friends and family can transfer funds to imprisoned U.S. citizens, when permissible under prison regulations

5. Aid to victims of crime
Consular officers, agents, and staff can help crime victims deal with local police and medical systems, as well as stay in touch with family members.

6. Country-specific information
The State Department website offers a profile of every country in the world, including information about safety and security, local health issues, vaccination requirements, currency restrictions and aviation safety. It includes any current travel alerts or warnings issued about that country.



Top 5 Conversation Starters About Travel Insurance

Most travelers understand the need to have travel insurance, and most will agree to purchase it, if the option is presented in a clear way by their trusted travel advisor.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
What Travel Agents Need to Know About California Consumer Privacy Act Regulations

Learn what all travel agencies need to know about how the proposed new laws may affect the collection and use of personal information, and how to comply with the regulations.

Online Hotel Booking Scams Cost Consumers $5.7 Billion Annually

Nearly one in four consumers are deceived by online booking scams and dishonest marketing practices by fraudulent and misleading travel websites.

AIG Travel Guard Insurance Plan Changes Upset Advisors

The major travel insurance provider has altered its core offerings and eliminated commission protection, causing many agents to reconsider selling their plans.

Travel Advisors Say They’re Unafraid of Biometrics

Despite heightened privacy concerns, travel agents are enjoying the benefits of current facial recognition technology used for security purposes, and they look forward to more.

First Travel Agency In-House Video Production Studio Opens in Toronto

The studio helps luxury travel advisors connect with their clients through high-end, professionally produced video content.

Advisors Have to Work Harder to Deliver Authentic Culinary Travel Experiences

With more companies offering more standardized experiences, satisfying high-end culinary travelers has become more difficult.

News Briefs
Tip of the Day

“There is still a lot to be said for the human connection and the personal touch for travelers who want to ensure they have a good experience away from home.”

Roxanne Boryczki

AZ Trails Travel

Daily Top List

Top Holiday Destinations

  1. The Peloponnese, Greece
  2. Matera, Italy
  3. Perth, Western Australia
  4. The Scottish Highlands
  5. St. Barth’s Caribbean

Source: Conde Nast Traveller

TMR Outlooks