Who’s Responsible for the Quality of a Trip?

Scenario #1: Jane is visiting a new destination and relies on a travel agency to confirm her hotel and touring services. She arrives at the hotel, checks-in, and finds that her room does not meet her expectations. The agency quoted a 4-star property, but Jane feels it is below average. The view from her window is less than appealing, she can hear her noisy neighbors, and the air-conditioning is faulty. Later in the evening, guest services calls to follow-up and ensure her room is comfortable. Jane communicates none of her concerns. Two days later, her travel agent also places a courtesy call. Again, Jane says the trip is wonderful and does not share her negative impressions about the hotel.

Three weeks after returning home, Jane calls her agent to complain about the hotel and asks for a refund. In this situation, who is responsible? Did Jane miss the window of opportunity to communicate her concerns to the hotel and agent? Or does the agency owe Jane a refund for not providing a hotel that met her standards?

Scenario #2: John hired a travel agency to confirm his hotel and airport transfers for his upcoming trip abroad. Before departure, he is given a detailed list of contact numbers in his destination, including the phone numbers of the transfer representatives. After his flight arrived 20 minutes early, John exits customs and is unable to locate the transfer representative. He searches for a few minutes, walks backs inside, and waits 20 minutes. He then exits again and finds the representative. John informed him that his flight was early and he had to wait for the transfer. The rep apologized and explained that the flight schedules are not always accurately updated, and according to the airline, the flight was on-time.

John later contacted his agency and asked for a refund of the transfer, citing lateness of the representative. Was it trivial for John to request a refund when the representative arrived on-time according to the stated flight schedule? Should John have called the rep and informed him of his early arrival? Or should the agency oblige John’s request and refund the amount of the transfer?

It is difficult to firmly define the traveler guidelines of personal responsibility. Where is the line drawn between what a traveler feels is unacceptable and what an agency believes is acceptable? And in the end, who is ultimately responsible?

As an avid globe trotter and Destination Specialist, travel is bridged between my personal and professional lives. Professionally, I coordinate. Personally, I participate. For this reason, it is especially important for me to plan a trip from the perspective of a client. Ask questions, inform, confirm, and then reconfirm. But let’s be honest. Although I will do everything I can to ensure the trip goes as planned, I cannot foresee any unanticipated obstacles. Travelers, be proactive. If you have concerns, contact your agency, guide, or local representative and clearly communicate your needs. Unfortunately, the travel industry is not exempt from human error. As agents, we are (hopefully!) committed to providing travelers with a fantastic experience, but unfortunately can do little to act on this pledge while  uninformed about our errors. Certain circumstances are beyond our control, but as with any business, mistakes may be made and we appreciate the opportunity to make it right.

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About the author: Allison Sodha

Allison Sodha is an India Destination Specialist and the owner of Sodha Travel, a company that coordinates private tours to South Asia. She is also a Destination Expert for AFAR and has written features for Little India, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and various travel publications. Allison resides with her family in Portland, Oregon, but considers India her second home. Please visit: www.sodhatravel.com www.indiatravelspecialists.com blog.sodhatravel.com

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