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Three tips to avoid common (costly) travel booking mistakes

Article by Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers

Having looked after clients and their insurances for over three decades, you would think I would have seen everything, and yet even now unbelievable things happen. Passengers being sent to the wrong hotel, even the wrong country. Passengers blaming the Travel Agent for turbulence. Passengers blaming the Travel Agent, well, for just about everything you can think of.

How you can avoid common mistakes

A large part of what an Insurance Broker does is assist the business owner in transferring their risks to Insurances, where possible. Unfortunately sometimes it is not possible for events to be covered by insurance, but we do what we can! When something does go wrong, we are there to help the client navigate their way through the crisis.

Looking after Travel Companies is quite the eye opener. I remember over ten years ago attending a Conference where a speaker discussed the Travel Industry as being “The Mistakes Industry”. I remember shifting a little bit uncomfortably in my seat.

With all the Online Travel Companies, Disruptor Models and the constant threat of demise of the travel agent, some things never seem to change. The strength of the Travel Agent and personal contact will always be needed. However, you would imagine that new technology would have reduced the amount of mistakes. Sadly this does not seem to be the case.

When something goes wrong with a trip you have organised, an itinerary you have planned, a booking you have made, whether it be a small value issue or a large dollar catastrophe are you really taking the time to review:

  • How the error happened?

  • Why did it not get picked up before it was too late?

  • Can anything be done to correct the error or at least mitigate the cost? (sometimes having to think “outside the box” to solve a problem can be a fantastic learning experience in itself and empowering for the consultant involved)

  • What can you do to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

Businesses are busier than ever, clients are more demanding and litigious than ever and technology seems to mean that responses have to be instant... and this one of the many reasons mistakes keep happening. Do not wait until the mistake is tens of thousands of dollars.

The time you invest in reviewing the circumstances of what went wrong, and would could have been done better, may be the best investment you can make for your business and for your staff.

three tips to avoid some common errors

  • Put all your communications in writing – your terms and conditions, details of what your client has instructed you to do etc. It is hard to argue when the facts are written and documented.

  • Communication with colleagues – numerous claims arise when two consultants are involved on one travel program. Each thought the other consultant had addressed the matter which ultimately led to the error. Document all actions on the same sheet of paper for all to see.

  • Checklists and audits – before finalising a booking, a simple process of double checking even the most basic details such as ticketing dates, deadlines for deposits, confirmation from suppliers, issuing of your terms and conditions to clients - all of these little things can save you from complicated situations that could potentially cost you thousands in time and money.

But the reality is that sometimes, mistakes will still occur.

Gow-Gates can help protect your business from risk

If the mistake looks like it could result in a claim of professional negligence against you, it is very important you seek the advice of your Insurance Broker immediately and although as difficult as it may be, not admit liability.

It is also important to remember that not all mistakes are your fault and if you have already accepted liability, it can put your business in a very difficult situation. Your suppliers may have made an error, your passenger may have failed to tell you something very important but often in the pressure of the moment, you accept blame for things you didn’t do.

As always, we recommend you review your Business Insurance Programme (including such important policies as Professional Indemnity, Public Liability, Management Liability & Cyber and Privacy Protection) with your Insurance Broker.

If you believe that this issue is relevant to your business, please feel free to contact Rebecca Fleming, Account Manager of our Travel Industry Division at Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers on (02) 8267 9919 or to discuss your circumstances or to obtain a quotation.

Ask us about how ACS can protect your business from credit card chargebacks

Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers advises that persons should not act on the material contained in this article as the items are of a general nature only and may be misinterpreted. We therefore recommend that advice be sought before acting in these areas.