If you’ve listened to (almost) any episode from Tique, you know that we are particularly obsessed with the concept of being legally protected. We didn’t come by this easily though. We have experienced going through an audit, have been threatened to be sued, have been hit with a copyright infringement settlement…and probably a few more scenarios that we’ve chosen to block out along the way. But now, we can safely say that we’ve settled into a very legally risk-averse life, and it feels very good.
So a little disclaimer: we are not lawyers and none of this should be considered legal advice. Your business is unique and the one thing that we will recommend is to work with a lawyer to review all of your processes to ensure that you are being as legally cautious as possible.
1. Utilize Lawyer-Reviewed Terms And Conditions
This isn’t something that you’ll want to piece together, and you definitely shouldn’t copy/paste from another agency’s terms and conditions (for many reasons). You may find that the more obstacles that you experience in your business, the more details you may want to outline in your client agreement.
You will also want to discuss with your lawyer how your process of collecting client signatures and consent works within your CRM. Three different types of contracts to discuss are:
- Click-Through Contract
- Agreement (Waiving Rights)
- Terms & Conditions
It’s important that the verbiage and the way that your client’s consent is collected are in compliance with each other.
2. Use A Credit Card Processor That Is PCI Compliant
PCI Compliance means that your systems are secure, and your customers can trust you with their sensitive payment card information. The biggest thing to know is that all financial information should be collected in a secure way.
This means that you should not be collecting payment information and transposing it to a vendor. There are a lot of risks that you are opening your clients up to by having this information in various places.
Lastly, make sure that anyone on your team handling financial information has completed a background check, a non-disclosure agreement, and (if the law allows) a credit check.
3. Obtain A Signature Of Approval For Every Transaction
Speaking of finances, one of the most common gaps in a process that we see is that advisors aren’t obtaining true authorizations for every transaction.
There are many ways to streamline your process so that you aren’t constantly needing to charge a client’s card. The goal is to complete the booking in the least amount of transaction as possible.
However, 2nd payments, upgrades, flight seat assignments, and some dining reservations may require one-off payments or credit card submissions. In this situation, we highly recommend adding the charge to an invoice and sending this for approval. Without doing this, you could risk a chargeback and being liable for the charge since you have no documentation proving that you had permission to charge that amount.
4. Get All Changes Or Cancellations In Writing
In 2020 travel advisors were canceling trips, changing dates, or changing locations of quite literally every booking. Meanwhile, there wasn’t a precedent and we had no history of needing signatures on so many cancellations.
We were using verbal and email requests to cancel trips with very large investment levels. We found out that we weren’t alone in this behavior, which is why we incorporated change and cancellation request forms into our Elevated Experience Workflow. So many advisors were canceling massive trips strictly based on an email or phone conversation, without as much as an electronic signature. If you don’t have a system in place to obtain a signature of approval to request itinerary changes after the point of booking, you could run into a very risky scenario.
5. Maintain All Documentation
We use a lot of live links in our process. Whether it’s Axus, Travefy, or Loom- all of these are links that can be changed or removed at any time. We recommend that every version of the itinerary, invoice or video should be downloaded and then saved to the client’s profile to ensure that there is a permanent record.
One last thing: You should also have insurance. The most common version that advisors have seems to be errors & omissions, although some also have general business insurance. Ultimately, you need to know what is covered and what is not so that you can make educated decisions within your business.