Making travelers’ dreams come true by arranging a tour of a lifetime is the ultimate goal of travel advisors. But what about when a traveler’s experience doesn’t match their expectations?
Well-informed travel advisors protect themselves and their business by having disclosure agreements and insurance coverage in place. As contract laws vary from state to state it is important to consult with legal representation within your business area. The Travel Law Office is one resource tour planners can turn to for assistance. The following article outlines general obligations of tour operators and tips for creating a tour participant agreement.
As a tour advisor, you are acting on behalf of the traveler. Your duty is to investigate and know as much as possible about the travel destination and suppliers you work with on their behalf. Select suppliers with care, using good judgement in an effort to foster good client relationships. Having separate contracts with listed terms of conditions and liability with each type of supplier involved with your planned tour is critical for your business. It is important to share the name of the suppliers with customers. Disclosing the name of suppliers allows clients to recognize charges being made on their credit card and be in contact directly with the supplier in the matter of a disputed charge. Encourage travelers to pay for reservations with credit cards to have the protection backing of that company.
Furthermore, you are obligated to share information that you know to be an industry standard or is public knowledge about a supplier or destination. For example, if a destination is unsafe, a supplier’s business is unstable or there are certain conditions that would affect the traveler’s plans, a travel advisor has a duty to warn the traveler. Tour planners also have a duty to inform travelers about the limitations of ticket changes, required travel documentation and availability of travel insurance. For your protection, provide a disclaimer document to clients including the information you shared.
Disclaimer agreements can be provided to clients either in written or electronic format. However, merely posting terms and conditions on your website is not enough. To be valid, the agreement must include the traveler’s signature of acceptance. Tour participant agreements should require travelers to agree that your company is not responsible for the acts or omissions of travel suppliers or events beyond your control. This agreement is also where you will put your payment and cancelation terms and other important disclosures. Sharing the agreement with your clients can take place during several stages of planning. You can approach the agreement as visitors come to your website for more information, as you are setting up a traveler profile, or as a note of acceptance with reservation confirmations.
Understanding tour planner obligations and creating travel participation agreements may not be the most fun part of building relationships with clients, however, minimizing risks will protect your company and allow for maximum growth.