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Cover yourself: why keeping records matters


Communicating via telephone and in person is an essential part of a travel agent’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, these exchanges are often verbal. But the importance of documenting client instructions, discussions and negotiations of all types in writing cannot be overstressed.


Too often, travel agents are blamed when things go wrong, and sometimes they do not have these communications recorded or confirmed in writing. To ensure you are protected, all conversations should be noted down in a diary, passenger file or call log and then be re-confirmed back to the client in writing via letter or email. 


The consequences of not doing this can be significant – such as having to defend yourself to a client or in the courts if 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, so that they can be used to support your case.


Insurance and record keeping

From an insurance point of view, if you need to lodge a professional indemnity claim, supplying evidence to support your claim can result in a more efficient claims process and is often 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. 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 conversations with clients. Calls or meetings with wholesalers, airlines and ground operators should be treated just as seriously, and a confirmation email should either be sent or requested to reiterate the information that was exchanged verbally.


Good record keeping is best practice

Making a habit of confirming in writing provides an opportunity for all parties to clarify the situation and ensures everyone is on the same page, so not only is it beneficial in cases where evidence is required, it can also help to stop a matter escalating to that point. 


While the 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, those extra few minutes serve as good business practice and provide peace of mind knowing that should you have to defend your actions, you can provide concrete evidence instead of relying on your memory or playing the “he said, she said” game.


If you would like further information, please feel free to contact our travel team at Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers on (02) 8267 9999 or travel@gowgates.com.au 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.