Processing reservation requests is a serious business and should be carried out accurately and with care. Customers can, potentially, spend substantial amounts of money on their travel arrangements and if these are not processed properly it can cause a range of problems. Consider the following scenario;
A family of four has booked a one month holiday to Europe; they have paid a little over $30,000 on their arrangements which include their airfares, one night’s accommodation in London before taking a 21 day tour of Europe.
The passengers were not aware of the fact that their first outbound flight was only on waitlist and not actually confirmed. Consequently, they were not able to leave Australia when they wished to and had to for two days before new seats were available for them. This meant that they did not use their first night’s accommodation in London and they lost the $450 they paid for this. The tour had left by the time they eventually arrived in London and they therefore missed the first two days of the tour (which they had paid for but not participated in). They then had to pay for 4 airfares from London to Paris to pick up the tour which was currently touring there.
This family was put through considerable stress and unnecessary expense because their reservation status was not properly handled and explained to them.
You may not always be able to provide customers with the exact services they have asked for, but it will be a large part of your job to do your best for them and to keep them informed about what they have (and have not) booked as well as what they are (and are not) entitled to.
Receive reservation request
From a customer’s perspective the planning phase of a holiday is often just as exciting to them as the actual trip itself; they can participate in the process of making their “dream holiday” come true. It is up to you, as the travel professional, to help make this a positive experience for them by gaining an in depth understanding of their needs and doing your best to fulfil them.
Customers come from diverse backgrounds and from all walks of life. They might be ‘industry customers’ such as retail travel consultants or inbound tour companies – or they might be the end users of the service; the consumer. Whoever they are and wherever they come from, they will have specific requests, needs and expectations where their travel arrangements are concerned and they may contact you to make these arrangements;
by phoning you, if they are unable to come in to your office, or their arrangements are fairly simple.
by email or online – in response to promotions or adverts on your website or social media sites
face-to-face consultations- if the itinerary is complex and will need several meetings, or in order to enjoy the total travel experience; from planning to travelling
As you will be aware, customers travel arrangements may be very simple point A to point B travel, or could be very complex so asking questions is the first step towards organising their travel for them. Questions to ask in the initial stages of the process can include (but are not limited to):
Where do they want to go?
When do they want to go?
How would they like to get there?
Do they have any special requirements such as meals, medical needs ?
Do they have any preferences in terms of class of travel, room type?
How many people are travelling?
How long will they be away for?
What is their budget?
How flexible are they in their travel needs and expectations?
The answers to these and other questions will give you the basis upon which you can build their travel arrangements.
Determining availability of services
The next step in planning these travel arrangements is working out the actual itinerary so that you can determine the individual components needed, the order in which they should be arranged, and to estimate their costs.