You’ve already seen hundreds of Italian vendors eager to give you a holiday package when you checked for airfare and hotels online. It can be challenging to say if a provider is legitimate outside of industry giants like Busaboat, Strawberry tours, Italy food tours, or whether you’ll be stuck in a foreign country if the tour operator goes out of business.

A good travel agency in Italy will help you land safely and allow you to tour the most beautiful places in Italy. Follow these measures to ensure that a lesser-known travel agency is trustworthy before making a booking.

Consider requesting client references and contacting those references to get feedback from previous travelers. Pick the company specializing in your purpose of traveling. On a travel message board, you may also ask for feedback on the provider.

1.Choose from the locals.

There is no replacement for personalization. One-on-one interactions with agents from Italy have been the most rewarding. Online agencies can’t compete with the opportunity to interact — to look the agent in the eyes and shake his or her hand. (It’s worth noting that not all agents work out of an office; however, home-based agents can and do make personal visits.) The only exception is if you’re looking for an agent who specializes in a niche market.

2.Interview the agent.

Because you aren’t from Italy should not make you afraid to interview them confidently. Don’t pick the first agent you find. Speak with a travel expert. Find out how long he or she has been in service. Read reviews from fellow travelers like you. Inquire about fees (they do charge booking fees, but they’re well worth it if you’re in a hurry).

It will help if you interview agents in person. Pay attention to how your potential agent reacts and what’s going on in the workplace. Do the other agents take the time to speak with customers, or do they seem only interested in manipulating them to make a booking decision? Is the agent you’re speaking with distracted or concentrating on assisting you? Step on if you don’t like what you see.

3.See their response when they’re put under duress.

The only way to tell if your travel agent is trustworthy is to see what happens if you have a problem. And you will have that chance at some point. What would your agent do if your flight is delayed, your hotel is overbooked, or your travel insurance claim is denied? Agents are paid for the booking in two ways: you pay a fee, or the company pays them a bonus. They are not your agent if they leave you hanging or give you the company’s 800 number. Most likely, they’re just interested in the commission.

4.Run if the feedback seems Fake

Okay, so this travel company has a lot of excellent online reviews. But before you take an anonymous reviewer’s word for it, do some research. Are all of the reviews published by accounts that have just ever reviewed this agency? This may indicate that the establishment you’re visiting has paid others to promote them online (or that they’ve created fake accounts and done it themselves). Before you put your faith in a reviewer, see if they’ve written about other sites.

5.Run if they aren’t well-known

It’s the 21st century. It’s a big red flag if any Italian company doesn’t have a website. Similarly, if there isn’t something published about a service online (such as positive or negative reviews), you should be hesitant to use them. You should be able to find some information about a provider on the Internet in this modern age.

Remember Italy is an excellent place for tourism and many people must have gone through a particular agency. There are, of course, often exceptions. Perhaps the service provider is a small tour company in a developing world. Treat the absence of an online presence as a possible red flag in that situation and see if it matches any other signs on this list.