How far can you “p.p.” on behalf of your clients?

Interestingly, the act of “pp’ing” on behalf of your clients seems to be common practice, but is not always appropriate.

The definition from Wikipedia is clear;  Procuration (Lat. procurare, to take care of) is the action of taking care of, hence management, stewardship, agency. The word is applied to the authority or power delegated to a procurator, or agent, as well as to the exercise of such authority expressed frequently by procuration (pro persona), or shortly per pro., or simply p.p.

Essentially, it is a Latin phrase meaning that you are signing the letter on somebody else’s behalf.

In legal terms, this may be disputed as to the level of authority it holds and certainly no where does it state that you can sign credit card charge forms or confirmation of booking forms on behalf of your client.

I am led to believe that consultants ‘have been known’ to send through booking forms to tour operators confirming the necessary details of their clients booking, but “p.p.’ing” them on their clients behalf.  This is not appropriate and poses a risk to both yourself and the tour operator.

Remember nothing replaces an original signature better than the original signature.

Think before you solicit your employer’s clients

I heard recently of a senior travel consultant leaving her current position to start her own travel company and on her last day wrote a very endearing letter to her employer’s client base to advise them of her new business adventure and all the good reasons why they should move their commerce to her.

Now why is this not okay?

Firstly, her letter of employment has a clause that explicitly covers the petitioning of her employers clients, but more importantly because it is such an unethical act!

A data base of any proportion takes time, technology and tenacity and whilst it may be available to employees to access for work related business it is proprietary information and should be treated as such.  The Consumer Protection Act covers the consumer’s right to privacy and clearly an act of this nature invades this basic consumer right.  In addition, the consumer has the right to choose and they have clearly made their choice.

Data base management companies place a sizable price tag to their product and for good reason, so however great the temptation is to solicit names without permission, remember its wrong!

Collabo… what?

There was an excellent research report doing the rounds recently that looks at the future role of the travel industry and what needs to happen for it to succeed in such a dynamic environment.

The good news, according to the IBM report (Click here), is that there’s a gap for professionals willing to help travellers navigate the confusing, time-consuming undifferentiated online travel landscape.

The bad news is that you’re actually going to have to collaborate with your industry partners to do it. The report says members of the travel industry must learn to work closely together and share information to get a more complete view of what customers want so they can match what they’re offering with how buyers behave. And unfortunately “no single party in the distribution channel can assemble a complete view of the customer on its own”.

Apparently by working together to assess and evaluate our mutual customers, travel companies can develop more precisely targeted products, promotions and offers to attract and retain customers. Rocket-science? I think not…

And it’s not all about price. The report says in an online travel environment, we’ve done very little but focus travellers on price. We’ve become our own worse enemies, displaying price most prominently on our websites and in our marketing collateral.

Personalisation is important. Online shoppers have become used to companies speeding up the process of selecting products and services that meet their needs based on their previous buying patterns. Travel agents should be allowing their customers to customise what information they want and how they want to receive it. And if you fail to capture their attention, you’ll likely not succeed.

Words to remember and hopefully not just another report we file under the pile of daily reading and forget about…

So long Natalia

At the end of March, the ASATA Members in Johannesburg said “so long” to Natalia Rosa former editor of Now Media at the monthly Thirsty Thursday’s function.  It seemed quite fitting to host her “farewell” at the event considering the whole concept of Thirsty’s was something she brought to the industry.

Natalia as we know her

Breaking all rules of the Thirsty’s tradition Dave Marsh allowed us to get in a one minute word of thanks but more importantly to handover a collection from her friends in the industry.  Over eight thousand rand was collected and the intention was for us to buy her a gift that she would cherish and have fond memories of us forever.

Thank goodness we didn’t rush off and buy her that branded luggage set or those diamond earrings  because when we eventually asked her what she wanted her response was “Please donate the whole lot to CLAW”.

Community Led Animal welfare (CLAW) is an internationally known and well-respected animal welfare organisation, renowned as the pioneer of community based primary animal healthcare in South Africa. CLAW is entirely community based and its full-time staff all hail from the areas it serves, supplemented by a loyal band of volunteers.

Natalia, we salute your selfless character and thank you for making us better people by knowing you.

Become the trusted advisor…

We keep being told about the value of the travel consultant re-emerging as a trusted advisor in the Internet age.

And once again this was the thrust of a research report released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) last week which pinpoints the two greatest challenges for travel agents in the 21st century: demonstrating our relevance and value to consumers and suppliers and attracting and retaining a new generation of professionals.

CLIA defines the ‘Next Generation of Travel Advisors’ as having a strongly entrepreneurial “can do” mindset; a flexible and nimble business model that allows for quick leverage of changing technology, economic conditions and the competitive landscape; and accredited education and training in line with what is required in such a complex travel industry environment.

Here are some of the initiatives it says will ensure the “next generation” is fully equipped for success:

•    Research to better understand the market: Get a better understanding of the expectations of today’s travel consumes particularly Gen X and Gen Y generations;
•    Communications to reestablish the value of travel agents: A broad public outreach with a focus on the younger generation that communicates the value of working with a professional travel advisor;
•    Educating a new workforce: The industry must do a better job of attracting students enrolled in universities offering degrees in travel and tourism and hospitality management; and
•    Ways to build and leverage credibility: Provide and support professional development and certification programmes that promote high-level standards and will win the trust of the consumer.

If you want to read the full report, simply click here