To help travel agents reassure client concerns about the Coronavirus, TICO has issued a special Registrar Bulletin that includes relevant tips and information.
Agents in the regulated provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia are required to comply with their legal obligations under provincial regulation. In addition to a “duty of care” that agents are responsible for, ACTA is recommending the following:
• Encourage clients to always use a credit card for booking as a best practice. Cardholders may have additional securities offered by their credit card provider as stated in the Cardholder Agreement and/or Terms of Conditions.
• Make sure you offer travel insurance, and that it is the ‘right’ travel insurance. Not only is this a best practice, it may be a requirement within provincial regulations. In Ontario, travel agents are obligated to advise customers about the availability of trip cancellation insurance and out-of-province health insurance, before accepting payment. It’s also important to sell travellers the ‘right’ travel insurance dependent on their client’s needs, and explain to them what the insurance does and does not cover.
• Inform your clients of the terms and conditions of each supplier involved in the client’s itinerary. Each supplier may have different policies, including refunds or possible penalties for changes and cancellations. Also make sure you are up to date on suppliers allowing changes or cancellations due to COVID-19. These change often so be sure to keep checking.
• Reference only official sources. It’s important that travel agents are using official sources to get the most up-to-date information on their clients’ destinations, and to encourage their clients to refer to these resources that they can make an informed decision. Go to https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.
• Know your legal obligations. Agents should be aware of what their responsibilities are if they operate within B.C., Ontario and/or Quebec. Disclosure of conditions that may impact a consumer’s decision to purchase travel services as well as advising customers of changing conditions are examples of what an agent is responsible for.
• Document everything. Now more than ever, travel agents are encouraged to document all communications (electronic, telephone, in-person) with their clients to ensure that they met their responsibilities. This would also protect agents against any liability for their business.