It cannot be stressed enough the importance of documenting client instructions, discussions and negotiations of all types in writing.
Communicating via telephone and in person is an essential part of a travel consultant’s role. Whether it be an initial consult, receiving instructions, making requested or necessary changes to an existing booking or just simply answering a query, often these exchanges are verbal. Too often we see travel agents blamed when things go wrong purely as a consequence of not having these communications recorded or confirmed. These conversations can be noted down in a diary, passenger file or call log and should then be re-confirmed back to the client in writing via letter or email.
Many Travel Agents unfortunately find themselves in the position of having to defend their agency to a client or the courts where it has been alleged there has been a breach of professional duty. These serious matters are the ultimate example of why it is crucial to have all communications in writing. More often than not, these communications can be used to support your case. It is much more difficult for parties to argue the facts if they are documented. From an insurance point of view, if you need to lodge a professional indemnity claim supplying evidence to support your claim it can result in a more efficient claims process and often is so valuable in forming part of your defence.
We strongly recommend that you keep a diary system recording all phone calls (incoming and outgoing) and the contents of the discussion especially for any bookings or changes requested either via phone or in person. These should then be followed up with written confirmation back to your client. The importance of confirming communications in writing is not just limited to your clients. Calls or meetings with wholesalers, airlines and ground operators should also be treated as seriously and a confirmation email should either be sent or requested to reiterate the information that was exchanged verbally.
Making a habit of confirming in writing your understanding of a client’s instructions also provides an opportunity for all parties to clarify the situation and make sure everyone one is on the same page, potentially avoiding misunderstandings that end up in complaints, Professional Indemnity issues or worse, Court Cases.
This process of documenting all verbal communications and sending confirmation emails may seem like an inconvenience in such a high-paced and often high-pressured environment, but those extra few minutes serve as good business practice and peace of mind knowing that in the event you are required to defend your actions you can provide concrete evidence instead of relying on your memory or playing the “he said she said” game. This is a game with no winners!
If you would like further information, please feel free to contact Rebecca Fleming, Account Manager of our Special Programs Division at Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers on (02) 8267 9919 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your circumstances or to obtain a quotation.
General Advice Warning – the information in the above article is intended as a guide only and should not be relied upon without consulting your relevant insurance policy wording and conditions or conversely seeking professional advice from either your insurance broker or insurer regarding a claim or potential loss. Failure to adhere to this warning could result in a denial of a claim or potential loss or a reduction in settlement of a claim or potential loss.