Q: My agency has almost no work these days except for refunds and rebookings for next year, so I am thinking of calling it quits after all these years. Can you give me some guidance about the steps I need to take? For example, what advance notice do I need to give to employees, my host, the landlord, ARC and anyone else? What about bookings for future travel?
A: If you have built a loyal client following, it is certainly preferable to sell your business instead of just closing it. Many larger agencies would probably be happy to buy your book of business in return for a negotiated percentage of revenue that your clients generate over the next two or three years.
However, if you are determined to close, you should know that nothing in the law prevents you from closing the doors at the end of business today, without any advance notice, unless you have more than 50 employees in one location and more than 100 employees altogether.
After you close, you can take care of all your legal and business obligations as they come up. However, like most entrepreneurs, you probably feel that it would only be fair to give some advance notices before closing. Consider doing so in this order over the next week or month:
- Tell your employees as soon as possible so that they can file for unemployment quickly or try to find new jobs before they become unemployed. The state unemployment agencies are still swamped with applications, so the sooner they can apply, the better.
- If you have a host, consult your contract to see what notice is required. In the typical agreement, you have to give 30 or 60 days' notice, but you don't have to do any new business during the notice period.
- Inform your landlord so they can start trying to find a new tenant as soon as possible. The landlord will probably claim that you owe the rent for the rest of your lease, but you may well be able to negotiate a mutual termination in return for a lump sum.
- If you have a GDS, give any required notice under your contract. Under today's standard Sabre and Amadeus contracts, you can suspend or terminate your obligations when you go out of business, as long as you pay any money already due plus the vendor's disconnection charge.
- If you have an ARC appointment, complete and submit ARC's Voluntary Cancellation Notice on the My ARC portal and carefully follow the instructions for final reporting and returning your unused e-tickets.
- Break the word to clients who have pending reservations, deposits and final payments that you are holding.
- Remit the deposits and final payments that you are holding to the suppliers or another agency that you trust and arrange to have the bookings transferred to that agency.
- Arrange to have your mail and calls forwarded either to your new place of work, your home or the agency that took over your bookings.