Mind your own business – Travel Advisor Confidentiality
A question commonly asked of travel professionals inspired my post today…
Keep Your Info Confidential
A few weeks ago, I compiled the stupid questions that have been asked of travel professionals; I gather those from other agent sources, and there was one that stood out as a very logical question to me: Is our relationship “privileged” like a client/lawyer relationship?
I think it’s a great question because in my mind there is a huge aspect of confidentiality in my job, particularly the more that I work with folks I know from church and my social circle. While certainly not privileged in the legal sense, the relationship with your travel professional is one that has a high requirement for respecting your privacy in sharing the information with others.
I’ve heard too many stories from other agents of family members trying to get details about a trip, when the actual travelers have purposely not shared that information with those family members. There may be times you may want information shared and other times not, so here’s a guideline of how that works, and if you would like your information shared with other family members, the way to request that.
Family Members Traveling Together
Travel arrangements are discussed only with the people specifically named as travelers in the booking. That means anyone that’s in the booking has full access to the information or can call and ask any type of question, unless it’s specifically requested not to be shared by the primary contact. Sometimes there are situations where the grandparents are treating the kids and grandkids and they want the details and pricing information confidential, or sometimes a spouse is surprising the other one and some or all of the arrangements are to be kept secret. In those cases, all the details will be suppressed to the degree which it’s requested; otherwise all aspects are open for discussion with travelers.
But if other family members were to contact me before or during your travels, asking for hotels or travel days, that information would not be shared unless permission to share information was specifically spelled out by the travelers prior to the trip. It is important to discuss with your travel professional what information you are comfortable sharing, and with which family members – and that information would be in regard to basic travel schedule and location and certainly nothing in regard to price or upgraded services.
And it’s not just family members – if other friends from the social circle or church ask about trip details, no information is given to them. If they know of the arrangement details because you’ve obviously discussed the trip with them, we might talk about the trip but only to the portion they already know, without any additional information shared. And the confidentiality carries over to my home life – my husband is often asked by our friends, “so what do you think about our such-and-such trip?”, and his response is “what trip?”. I don’t discuss trip arrangements with him so he has no clue about any of our friends’ travel plans, so he has to chat with them to hear about what I have been working on.
One area that I have had to become more open in regard to privacy is church pilgrimages, because a very large aspect of pilgrimage is the fellowship of the church members. The first few that I coordinated, people would ask me who else from church is going, and I would basically say – I can’t tell you (but in nicer words). I figured out that really didn’t work very well; then after the trip sharing the contact information was another issue in conflict with my confidentiality policy. I’ve had to change my terms and conditions/participant agreement for pilgrimages so that it specifically states that prior to the trip the participant names are shared with other church members, and the afterword contact information will be shared – I found that sharing this information is such an integral part of the fellowship aspect of the trip, but at the same time I didn’t want to violate my own privacy standards without specifically spelling that out.
As you plan your next trip, consider who you want to make sure has your travel details. Providing family members with an itinerary of where you’ll be and the contact info for various hotels is a good general practice. But it’s important to talk with your travel professional about who they can discuss your arrangements with while you are traveling, as they will not otherwise share the details with anyone without your express permission.