magine that an affluent client who had
used your travel agency in the past came to you, prepared to spend
a substantial amount of money for a family vacation. The client
indicated a resort hotel he had in mind.
Imagine that you had heard from past clients of their
dissatisfaction with the resort in question.
Would you feel obliged to tell your client about others'
experiences? And if you did so and the client insisted on going
there anyway, would you sell the trip without comment, sell it only
if the client signed a document relieving the agency of liability,
or say you could not in good conscience book a place about which
you had major concerns?
I pose this scenario because I heard recently about a situation
in which an agency had knowledge about a hotel's questionable
reputation and withheld it from a client.
When the client came back dissatisfied, the agency acknowledged
that it had heard similar stories, leaving the client angry that
the agency's knowledge hadn't been shared.
What's more, the agency offered the client nothing more than an
"I'm sorry it didn't work out" response. The client is considering
a change of agencies.
I'm not a lawyer but it seems to me that there is a considerable
difference in potential liability for an agency, depending on
whether the agency or the client makes the choice of suppliers.
In this instance, the agency would clearly be at fault if it
recommended a supplier even though it had information about past
problems with that company.
The issue of what to do when the client insists on a supplier is
a trickier one. Agencies, particularly these days, are reluctant to
turn down lucrative bookings. But is it worth a substantial
commission if the ultimate cost is at least the loss of a good
client -- and at worst a lawsuit?
I'm not running an agency so it's all too easy for me to say
what I'd do but my inclination is to regard the long-term
relationship with a good client as more important than the
prospective commission from one booking.
How do you think the agency in this situation should have
handled the matter? I'd be interested in your opinion.