Accounting Advice: Four Ways to Lower The Likelihood of Travel Agent Staff Cheating

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    You only have to type ‘travel agent theft’ in a search engine to immediately see the number of recent news articles relating to this issue. As the owner of a small business the last thing you need is to have your company name plastered all over the media attached to a case of dishonesty, and dissatisfaction.

    Some examples of travel agent cheating are:

    • Credit and debit card theft
    • Collecting cash from customers without booking promised holidays or flights
    • Dodgy black market dealings purchasing tickets at no cost
    • Accepting payment for additional items for a trip such as insurance and not purchasing the additions.

    Destruction of Reputation:

    Going into positive PR mode is one thing, but in this modern era the internet is a remarkably resilient tool with an infinite amount of archive storage. No matter how much you try to bury bad news, it can have a discomfiting way of being the proverbial penny.

    Furthermore, good old fashioned word-of-mouth has had an overhaul – instant social media platforms. Sadly, bad reviews and complaints are documented much more readily than compliments. It goes without saying what this could do to your business.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how innocent you are of the ‘massaged’ travel agency accounting figures, or lack of booked holiday for a client who has paid in full. Your staff members are the face of your business, their behavior reflects on your company, and their nefarious intentions and actions can have devastating consequences. Irrespective of hard-working and honest you are.

    What’s At Stake For Your Agency?

    To put it bluntly your business, your integrity and career.

    It’s difficult to recover from a financial crime. The implications include loss of income, loss of good staff to competitors, a culture of mistrust in a previously enjoyable workplace, having to redo systems, processes and training to eliminate the likelihood of a re-occurrence.

    Not to mention time and funding lost to pursuing, investigating and prosecuting the crime in the first place.

    How do you recover? If you drop your prices, you lose your margins, if you’ve alienated your clients, you’ve lost your income.

    Proactively Protect Your Business

    Enough doom and gloom. Damage control shouldn’t be the first step in your action plan against ensuring this doesn’t happen to you.

    Consider these:

    1. Travel Agent Recruitment:

    Hire the best in the first place. This includes painstakingly going through references and perhaps even police checks, particularly if the person is going to be in a high access position of trust.

    A little effort in the beginning could save a lot of unnecessary heartache later.

    2. Documentation:

    Set up and enforce a rigid travel agent accounting system that’s business appropriate.

    Large amounts of undocumented cash is an uncomplicated method of theft. Cash can easily be left off the travel agency accounting system.

    Have your clients pay in a way that can be electronically tracked, with appropriate documentation.

    A no-cash policy is a good idea.

    3. Be Vigilant:

    A successful businessperson will keep tight controls on their systems, with regular reviews and checks across the board. Resist the urge to be lax, particularly in busy times as by the time you notice something is amiss it may be too late.

    Meet on a regularly scheduled basis with your accountant to review travel agency accounting and act immediately should there be any alarm bells.

    4. Trust Account

    Frequently review your trust account internally by a trusted staff member. Have the account audited by an external trusted professional with experience in travel agent trust accounts and travel agency accounting.

    Contact us to review ways to proactively protect your travel agency from fraud and theft. We provide local accounting services to clients in Melbourne and suburbs such as Malvern, Glen Waverely and Mount Waverley.

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