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Providing information to customers

Providing trip information to tourists

Producing the right brochure for your client, and the correct information, is as much about language and culture, as it is about common sense. For example, whether you should mention if accommodation is basic, or what happens if you need a deposit? It might seem strange to put all this information down for your clients, but tourists have come to expect this type of information when travelling. Many tourists save their money so they can afford to travel, and they want to have a trip of a lifetime. Because of this many tourists don’t like too many surprises. Just remember to tell them how fantastic the trip is, while also letting them know what to expect.

This is a guide for local tourism providers, structured around frequently asked questions (these are based on British Government regulations for Package Travel[1]). These are general guidelines only!

1)    What do tourists expect to see in a brochure? (The information should be easily understood and accurate, and include information about whether the following are included in the price, or if they are charged separately):

a.     Start and end destinations of the trip (remember your client may never have visited these places before)

b.     Itinerary i.e. start and end times of activities

c.     Describe activities, and list whether items are included or excluded in the trip price

                                   i.          Transport

                                  ii.          Type, location, and facilities provided with any accommodation (e.g. with toilet, hot water, homestay, towels etc.)

                                iii.          Whether meals and drinks are provided

                                iv.          Fees and taxes (remember if you take money over the internet, the service provider may charge a fee).

                                  v.          Be clear about the deposit amount, when this needs to be paid, how (credit card, cash, internet etc.), in which currency, and when you expect the balance (any remaining money) of the payment to be settled by your client

                                vi.          Include any other information which will help to manage the expectations of your client. For example, if the accommodation is basic, or if a bus is likely to be without air-conditioning, let your client know in advance.

d.    Passport and visa requirements

                                   i.          Each country has guidelines for nationals visiting other countries which are issued by their Foreign Office and/or Embassy. Even though you may disagree with some of the advice, it is important your customers are aware of any guidelines their country has issued. You can state that it is a travellers responsibility to check there first

 

a.     Health requirements

                                   i.          Most countries publish guidelines for travellers, with recommendations for vaccines, malarial protection, etc. Tell your customers to make sure they follow country health guidelines – see links

                                  ii.          Let your clients know about how to avoid any dangerous animals, plants or terrain you may come across on your trip

                                iii.          Whether clients need to have a certain level of fitness or health to undertake the trip

                                iv.          Whether clients may experience altitude sickness, which can start as low as 2,500m or 8,000feet

                                  v.          Remind your clients (especially those with pale skin!) to use sun screen and a hat if you will be outdoors in the sun, especially at high altitudes. This will help avoid sunburn and sunstroke.

                                vi.          Also ask whether your client has any special requirements (e.g. vegetarian, disabled) when they are booking the trip, so you can decide whether these are reasonable

b.    Contingency plans (managing changes to the trip)

                                   i.          Let clients know whether a minimum number of people are required for the trip to go ahead, and therefore the deadline for letting you know if a client cancels with you

                                  ii.          Arrangements for if clients are delayed at the start or end of the trip

                                iii.          Arrangements for security of money paid to you as a deposit by the client, in case of cancellation by either party. You should also give your client information about notice required to cancel the trip if they want to have their deposit returned (e.g. 4 weeks). If they cancel the trip you must return their deposit unless they do not give enough notice (e.g. less than 4 weeks before the start of the trip)

                                iv.          If you have to significantly change a part of the trip before departure, then let the client know as quickly as possible. Your client will then decide whether to continue with the new trip.

c.     Insurance! Require the client to get insurance which includes comprehensive cover. This means if anything unexpected were to happen, your client would have support from their insurer.

d.     Include the corresponding name and address for your business which is selling the activity, and contact telephone number, emails etc.

e.     Make sure you own the right to use any resources you may need for your trip

 

2)    Other questions you may have

a.     Can I apply surcharges (extra charges) if my costs go up?

                                   i.          Surcharges can be applied if there are changes to transportation costs, taxes, certain fees and exchange rates. Your contract should include that this may happen in these limited circumstances. Usually any changes to the cost should not total more than 2% of the original cost.

b.    Should I take a booking from a client under 16 years old?

                                   i.          Only if they have permission from their legal guardian, e.g. parent.

c.     What happens if something happens to my client when on the trip?

                                   i.          You are only liable (responsible) if the damage to the client results from your inability to fulfil your agreement/contract. This is why it is important to set out your agreement properly, and to let your client know about the conditions of travel, accommodation, and tours. If damage results from fault by the client, or fault by a supplier, or because of unusual or unforeseeable circumstances which could not have been avoided, then you are not liable.

                                  ii.          Again, this is why we recommend that you make sure all your clients have proper travel insurance, so that in the event of any unusual or unforeseeable circumstances they are still taken care of.

                                iii.          Seek further information from a local insurance company so you can limit your liability if you are offering package tours.


Useful links

http://www.ecoturismo.org.ec/  - Ecuadorian Ecotourism Association (ASEC), a seventy-seven member private non-profit organization created in 1991 with a mission "to foment the harmony between the Society, the Tourism and the Conservation".

Example of rock climbing guides – from climbs in Mexico
Web: http://www.xpmexico.com

Altitude Sickness, sunburn and sunstroke, exposure, diarrhoea etc. - http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/



[1] Package travel is defined as any travel including two or more elements e.g, guiding, accommodation, travel etc. Even paying for the elements separately through the same organise does not mean the trip is not a package.