We never just confirm the booking orally, preferably even with the loyal clients we have some written agreement. We can use a text message or an email as a written confirmation to start working on the project of the booking, but before that we try to avoid taking action. And I will explain why.
Once we, as a broker, send operator an email to confirm the booking, the cancellation fees will apply to us.
When the flight is confirmed, the client signs the offer and is issued the invoice to pay, he is asked about specific preferences or any additional requests, but mostly, the client's job is done here, except for providing valid travel documents and showing up in time.
We confirm the booking with the operator, meaning they cannot use this jet for any other clients and they have to start working on preparing the journey.
So here is the trick: If the client changes his mind, we, as brokers, already get the cancellation fees from the operators, as they are refusing other job opportunities, or sometimes even position the jet, apply for flight permits or order the catering, the crew or anything else.
So for this reason there is a cancelation fees fork - different fees depending on the amount of time till the departure. When we make the booking with the client, we have a very standard form, informing the client about possible fees. But when we, as brokers, confirm a booking with the operator, we need to make sure, the operator's terms and conditions are similar or somehow in alignment with the ones we have with the client. Otherwise there can be situation, when the client
has to change or to cancel the flight, and is acting in accordance with the agreements with us, but is in trouble of getting his money back because of the operator's greed or inattentive behavior of the broker.
Once the booking between the client and the broker is made, the broker is signing the paperwork with the operator and the operator is sending the broker the invoice we have to take care of as soon as possible. But here comes a difficult part. Sometimes it takes time before the money lands to the bank account, the SWIFT is provided by the client and we have to pay to the operator so that they position the jet and get everything ready, from "our own pocket" without having the client's money yet. Which is tricky, as you can assume.
All the operators and FBOs (airport representative companies) have different protocols and rules of action. Of course, I want all the papers to be signed and approved as soon as possible, so that the client can depart at the time convenient and requested. For this reason we have to make sure the operator applies for the permits as soon as possible. But again before signing the contract the operator is not going to take action, as he will be charged as well.
Sometimes in some locations we prefer working with particular FBOs, knowing that this lounge or that runway is more convenient for the client, but the operator might or might not have contract with that lounge. So first (if we have the preference) we place a request, then we put effort to make it happen, if there are some obstacles.
Sometimes busy airports play with the time slots, as they are very much on demand. To have a convenient timing the client requested, we have to put effort as well.
In other places the runway might only be operating during particular hours and special weather conditions, we have to be aware and inform the client about the possible changes.
Another tricky question is catering. As I mentioned in other articles, the high quality catering is a must. But when the client is traveling with kids for example, or has a particular diet request, this needs to be taken care of in advance. The operator usually has a particular amount of money per person for the restaurant order they are placing, and certain restaurants they prefer, but also for the alchohol they are either bringing from abroad or purchasing locally. So the sooner the operator is informed, the easier it is to fulfill the wishes of the client. Although in my practice I had situations, when the clients were in a "party mode" and they wanted much more luxurious food to be ordered, which would exceed the amount of money the operator expects and the operator would need to charge extra, if that is the case. For this reason, I am always asking about the catering preferences, as we want our clients to be happy, but if the operator can't do anything, we'd better find a different way to satisfy the needs of our guests, if they are reasonable. But also small jets don't even have a flight attendant or an oven to keep the dinner warm, that's why small bites are only offered to the passengers.
These are only the surface level questions the broker needs to take care of once the booking is placed. For this reason, we have no other way but a necessity to charge our clients the cancelation fees, when the occasion occurs. Although most of the time, clients understand and value all the efforts and love we put into our job.
We are very grateful that you choose us for your travel arrangements.
Excited to serve you from our hearts on our next bookings together.
Your Sales Manager