Confirm a booking
Takeaway 09:
Communication in the workplace: Travel & Tourism

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This takeaway is in three parts:
Part 1: The confirmation invoice
Part 2: The phonetic alphabet
Part 3: Writing a standard letter

Part 1: The confirmation invoice

When customers choose their package holiday, they pay a deposit which is sent with their booking form to confirm their booking. The tour operator then sends back a confirmation invoice to the travel agent, who checks it and passes it on to the customer.

The confirmation invoice includes the following information:

The 'lead name' is the person who signed the booking form and has therefore agreed the contract for the holiday on behalf of any other members of the group. This means that he or she is legally responsible for all those named in the booking. So if, for example, one person cancelled and decided they were not going to pay the cancellation charges, the lead passenger would have a legal obligation to pay. Also, because the contract is between the tour operator and the lead passenger, this is the only person who can make any changes to the booking.

Part 2: The phonetic alphabet

The confirmation invoice should always be checked for any mistakes by both the customer and the travel agent. If any errors are found, they should be corrected at this stage by telephoning the tour operator.

Any errors are, in practice, most likely to occur with passenger names or initials; to avoid any misunderstandings on the phone it is standard practice to use the phonetic alphabet for names, initials, booking references etc.

The phonetic alphabet always uses the same code words for the 26 letters of the alphabet.

Alpha Juliet Romeo
Bravo Kilo Sierra
Charlie Lima Tango
Delta Mike Uniform
Echo November Victor
Foxtrot Oscar Whiskey
Golf Papa X-ray
Hotel Quebec Yankee
India   Zulu

Part 3: Writing a standard letter

Structuring a standard letter
Most of the letters sent by travel agents to their customers are routine letters dealing with particular stages of the booking procedure - for example, a covering letter enclosing the confirmation invoice. This means that they are standard letters; in other words they have a set format which is the same for each customer.

An example of a standard letter is a covering letter accompanying a confirmation invoice. Its structure might be as follows:

  1.  Say why you are writing - explain what you are sending the customer.
  2.  Say what the customer has to do now - in this case, checking the confirmation invoice.
  3.  Say what the customer has to do next - in this case, the next step will probably be paying the balance.
  4.  Close the letter in a helpful and polite way - make clear that the customer can contact you with any queries.
Using the right language
These are quite simple letters, but it is important to get the tone right. This involves deciding on what you want to say, using the right tone for the customer, not too chatty, but also not too formal.

Here are some examples:

You want to say why you are writing

You want to say what the customer has to do now

You want to say what the customer has to do next

You want to close the letter in a helpful and polite way

Here is an example of a standard letter. You can see that the four short paragraphs match the four headings above. Note also the balance between formal and casual language.

  Produced by LDN/desq/Can Studios for the National Learning Network