There is a general "flow" when it comes to pricing and paying for vacations. Whether you're working with a travel agent or going it alone with DIY planning, the process is pretty much the same...
- You do your homework
- Find the perfect trip
- Check availability and pricing
- Receive your confirmation
- Away you go!
Unlike online DIY travel planning, your travel agent can often put flights, hotel and tour packages on a courtesy hold. This afford you a day or so to make your final decisions and confirm time off from work. Normally all your travel agent needs is your legal or passport names to hold space. Your reservations are not confirmed until you place a credit card deposit or full payment.
There are a few situations where travelers may be asked for their credit card details in order to check availability. This can sometimes happen during very high demand travel weeks like December holidays or spring break when space is extremely limited. This can also happen if you are requesting a very specific or limited room category.
You'll know the price for your room or tour package. You will need to supply passengers legal (passport) names and dates of birth along with your credit card and billing details in order to cehck availability. If your vacation package is available, your card will be charged on the spot and you will receive confirmation. If the vacation you want is NOT available nothing will be charged to your credit card.
There is nothing shady or under-handed about this way of making reservations. It simply means the hotel or tour company wants you to "put your money where your mouth is". They simply want to be sure they are working with a serious buyer.
In cases like these, no doubt overseas calls will need to be made in order to verify and insure the room or tour you want is available for your specific travel dates. This means extra work and time is involved to secure your reservations. Travel companies need to work efficiently so they don't want to go through this extra work unless you are definitely going to book. If they didn't ask for payment up front during high demand situations, by the time they checked and got back to you to collect your credit card details, your vacation would most likely be sold to someone else.
If you are looking to book say a presidential suite there may be only one of these suites available. A hoteleir may not want to put this special room on a courtesy hold. While you're making up our mind, a serious buyer may be missed.
Just make sure you are working with a trusted travel company or better yet a travel agent that is known to you. Make sure it is someone that you've initiated travel planning and have done your diligence regarding their reputation. NEVER wire money or use checks or cash payments in these situations. Your bank or credit card company offers a layer of security to help insure that you get the product and services that you've used your credit card to pay.