5 Ways to Best Protect Your Agency: Ancillary Information | Travel Research Online


5 Ways to Best Protect Your Agency: Ancillary Information

Clients will often ask about issues with which the travel agent is not immediately familiar. Such questions range from entry requirements for other countries to laws governing marriage and divorce abroad. Indeed, the business of travel planning sometimes impinges on some areas where the travel counselor is not at all expert. Some issues are of particular importance to a client’s decision to go to a given destination. For example, clients will often inquire about the safety of a destination, medical tourism, traveler health issues or even typical weather and climate.

In most instances, travel agents are best served first by common sense, and secondly by a good set of standard operating procedures that ensures all information provided the client is documented. While no travel agent is a guarantor of the safety or health of a client, travel counselors can inadvertently take additional risks upon themselves by providing guarantees or by providing incorrect information.

When asked questions about issues close to the logistics of the travel transaction, such as entry requirements, provide clients with written statements of requirements. Check resources such as Timatic frequently, and don’t rely on memory. For matters such as travel advisories and health issues, refer the client to the State Department and to the CDC as primary resources of information. Never allay a client’s fears or concerns by assuring them that “there is nothing to worry about” or “it’s perfectly safe”. Never “guarantee” anything. Travel is by its very nature a journey into unfamiliar territory with attendant risks. It is worthwhile to provide the client with the sites above in writing as a part of the standard operating procedure of your agency.
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Clients will often press agents on issues far afield from the travel transaction. If a client inquires about the laws regarding marriage requirements or the legality of divorces obtained abroad, the agent is well advised to decline an answer unless such matters are a part of the agent’s venue of expertise. A travel agent giving faulty advice in these matters might quickly find themselves in trouble. Most jurisdictions publish their matrimonial requirements for non-residents on their tourism or other governmental sites and agents are well advised to refer their clients to those resources.

It is worthwhile doing a quick review of your marketing collateral to insure that your agency is not inadvertently guaranteeing some aspect of the client experience or holding out an expertise in such a way as to incur liability. Likewise, review the agency “boilerplate” disclaimers to make certain that the agency is protected to the extent possible by providing expert and authoritative resources for the use of clients during the planning process.

A few dollars spent with a knowledgeable attorney on preventative measures is an excellent tactic to avoid spending money with attorneys in defense.

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