We chat with Laurence Gore, President of Gore International Law about the most common legal mistakes that travel advisors make:
- Mistake #1: Legal liabilities with your business
- Mistake #2: Unsecured practice with client information
- Mistake #3: Having the correct legal documents and forms
- Bonus: Canadian Law
|(Stephanie speaking) Hi everyone. I’m so sorry. Of course, like any great technology you get to deal with so thank you so much for bearing with us here as we got started but we’re|
so excited for today’s webinar. But first, I really just want to say welcome to this webinar today. It’s hosted by Traffic Academy and we also have a really amazing guest Lawrence who’s going to share so much legal knowledge with us today on top three legal mistakes that travel advisors make. We know a lot of users are excited. We had a lot of registered attendees. So thank you so much for being here with us, but just to quickly introduce myself though is I am Stephanie Gries, and I’m the senior client champion and education coordinator at travefy and I can’t wait to introduce our guest as well Lawrence here, and I’ll introduce him in a minute. But before we get started, I also do want to give a quick plug on travefy Academy and what to expect on today’s webinar.
Travefy partners with experts across the travel industry to provide free educational webinars through travefy Academy. So these webinars are not commercial in nature to promote any organizations nor does travefy ever accept compensation for Partnerships. So really travefy Academy exists to provide powerful educational experiences and really just fulfill our mission to help power the success of travel professionals. So today’s webinar is for informational purposes, of course, and we also encourage you also to consult an attorney or a certified Legal Professional for any specific legal needs or issues. So really our Hope for travefy Academy is just to become a resource for travel advisors from a wide range of perspectives and different experience levels similar to like what you’ll find in today’s webinar. So with all that stuff, let’s get started here.
So with the webinar information is kind of let you know here what to do is that there is a
question box. There’s a question box available to you that you can use to add any questions that you have throughout this webinar. And then we are going to have time, in the end, to go over those questions. This webinar is also being recorded So if you need to hop off or if
you have a colleague who missed it or you want to pass it along, it is being recorded and
we will send an email out to everyone after this with the recording so you will get to check that out again, and now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for I want to introduce our special guest Laurence Gore here today to tell you a little bit about him and why we’re so
excited for him to be here. Lawrence Gore became a member of the Florida bar in 1978 and opens the doors of his first office as Lawrence Gore, PA in 1979.
And Mr. Gore is currently with the international law firm of Lawrence D Gore and Associates PA with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami Buenos Aires, Singapore, representative office in London as well. Mr. Gore graduated from the Southern Methodist University and received his JD from Nova law school. He spent considerable time and advanced courses having studied at SMU’s Branch campus in Madrid Spain and Nova University programs at Oxford University and the Hague. He has been extensively involved in international law for many years serving in many capacities with the Florida bar international law section including as its chairman and representative to the International Bar Association and founder of the travel law committee. Lawrence’s it primary practice includes contracts and it goes negotiation probate real estate corporate and tourism law so you can see with all of that.
Why we are so excited for him to be here. So Lawrence. Thank you for being here. This is
really exciting. (Laurence speaking)Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate that.
(Stephanie Speaking) Real quick to before I hand it over to Lawrence. What we’re going to do here is we’re going to let Lauren’s take over and you can see the slides here on your screen and he’s going to share with us all this knowledge on today’s topics, but then we are going to open it up, like I mentioned, for questions at the end. So keep those flowing throughout the presentation and I also want to mention that you saw the three topics that we want to talk about today. But Lawrence is actually going to talk a little bit about Canadian law specifically after that which also has to do with us law to so we know we have a lot of agents in Canada, and we wanted to cater to you so there will be a bonus section at the edge for that as well. So with that being said Lawrence, I will let you take over now. (Laurence speaking) All right. Thank you. I’m one of about two dozen attorneys in North America specializing in travel and tourism.
More the majority of us belong to what’s called IFTA or the international form of travel and tourism Advocates. There’s also the North America and we meet worldwide as well as locally every year in Fort Lauderdale. It provides a great resource for us all over the world. If you have clients that are in trouble no matter where we usually have an attorney available for you now. Also, I’m a former owner of a travel agency and tour company. So I’ve been through a lot of the ropes that many of you were going through and finally decided I better just practice law instead of also run the travel agency, but I was asked by our host Travefy to discuss the most important issues and mistakes that are brought up in many of the seminars we have conducted worldwide.
Mistake number one: legal liability, excuse me, legal liabilities with your business as you can see we develop what we call the legal tuneup for travel agents what this is is a series of formwork that we use and are available to travel agents and travel agencies. Now the forms can be included on your website as an attachment or referenced also on the first or second page of the beginning of your website a notation such as the use of this website implies that the user agrees to the terms and conditions associated with the website and they’re after you can also use it should be noted that can be used in any Associated client documents. You wouldn’t want to put on your tickets, of course, so we’ll talk about these several of these forms later. But let me go through these right. Now. First of all Insurance refusal form as most of you know, you should always make sure that your client is offered insurance, but you need a format where he checks off a box or declines.
Flee in writing so we have an insurance refusal form that you should be using or it creating your own. I refund form many of you do not have it. We see that it should happen and according to many court cases if they’re not told when the money can be returned or if it can be returned. You can be held liable. So you need those to use those specifications in the formats and tell them if it’s 60 days out 90 days out or perhaps non-refundable that all a trip policies form. Now. This generally is something that is used if you’re acting as a tour conductor or you act putting together your own tour you want to specify what’s going to happen in that tour what has to happen who is performing what services and what your conducted or liable for?
And we have a general terms and conditions notice. Basically, that incorporates many of these that we’re talking about and that should be on your website. Now, we’ll also talk about what’s Incorporated in there is a waiver form. So you make sure that you’re not liable for certain conditions that are outside of your control, especially those that may be associated with a third-party like the airline the cruise line the hotel Etc.
In many cases, you want a trip Assumption of risk form. Now. This is if you’re conducting especially high adventure type of tour where there are taking and say scuba, diving mountain climbing, something like that anything where it could be a danger to the individual if he does not know what he’s doing. So he assumes the risk a trip authorization form. Also, that’s generally something we only use when you have minors that are included that the guardian or the parent signs off if it’s a trip for a minor.
Also a trip reservation details you could strip consider this again. If you’re putting together some kind of a tour again, you want to spell out what it entails and who the suppliers are and finally what’s become most important these days and we’ll talk about that at the moment is an agreement of consent to use of personal information.
Now when I first started doing some of these lectures 6,7, 8 years ago and I asked how many are offering Services under a sole proprietorship, meaning just under your own name as an outside independent contractor seventy percent of the people would say yeah. I’m doing that. They’re not using an s or C corporation or an LLC.
Basically the forms of the business organization our sole proprietorship and general partnership a limited partnership and then a c-corporation or an escort or an LLC for those involved in travel. We really recommend an S corporation or an LLC. So you primarily a sole proprietorship has only one owner and that can expose you to extreme liability in the event your suit because all of your personal assets, they can go after and believe me. I’ve had situations with agents that have done that or they’ve actually formed an agency, but they put the place that they’re operating out of within that same corporation which then opened the entire building to liability in the lawsuit.
Now Partnerships exist those can be two owners and that’s generally or more that’s going to be in the format of an LLC and a partnership can also separate partnership agreement should be included in an LLC or a sub S corporation. If you have more than one owner c-corporation you will see but that’s generally the larger companies. You may be Coca-Cola, General Motors, anyone where you have an unrestricted possibility of owners or their selling shares Etc. You don’t often see that and a fairly minor travel sense large corporation in the travel industry of Cruise Line Etc will generally be AC Court.
Now an S corporation is also used frequently, but that can have no more than 35 owners. And I don’t think most of you need to worry about that. But again generally will see one two three owners in the u.s. Corporation and the issue stock shares where as an LLC does not do that.
Some of the items you want to consider and you form a doing business is the fact that is if there are death or there’s a disability or retirement or a bankruptcy and that can force the end of the business if you have not formatted this into form of an LLC or sub S corporation.
And you can use a partnership as I said within the LLC or sub S so that the partners actually take over and the event of a disability or death.
It’s become extremely important recently with the new tax laws in 2018. Because the new standard deduction was increased to $24,000 dollars for married individuals, but other personal deductions have been eliminated. So unless itemization is used there is no allowance for charitable contributions home mortgage interest payments state and local tax payments, therefore, the use of a 20% deduction for the qualified business income is allowed in addition to your standard deduction and becomes very important. So the use of an LLC or subbase sub S corporation for a home-based agent is a very important factor in tax savings because the top corporate tax rate is now reduced to 21% or individual owners of businesses. So what you’re basically getting by using an LLC or in some cases for your protection several LLC’s is an additional 20% reduction.
Your overall taxes and the sub S or an LLC can also be the losses can be deducted from your personal income tax return.
Now let’s talk about errors and omissions and general liability, of course errors and omissions should be mandatory and it should be required by the host agency. Some of the host agencies will provide this but they should be charging for it a sample Clause as you can see here is the contractors to provide for their own errors and omissions insurance and the amount of here.
We put a million dollars and must submit proof of set Insurance upon signing of the agreement contractor made its own option purchase liability insurance through the agency and or may have the cause of said Insurance deducted from the commission’s mistake number two unsecured practice with client information.
First of all, many of you may not know but if you have European clients and some may not realize you have European clients because you’re now dealing on the internet and you’re dealing in a global economy. So the fact is that wherever the client comes from you can be sued and can end up being sued in France and you can end up being sued anywhere in the United States for instance. So what becomes very important also is what we call a jurisdiction clause in your contract the jurisdictional limits at to the county the state of the country where you’re doing business the cruise lines use this with regularity and most of the courses either the west coast of the east coast and you should be using as travel agents as well. Now the European Union and U.S.
Privacy Shield treaty basically stated that information that is shared by any Corporation of clients without their permission and then maybe damaging to them allows for a lawsuit. We have signed an EU. EU’s privacy shield with the European Union and therefore if you’re doing business with any potential client in any of these countries within the EU you could be sued.
So the protection of client privacy records the GDPR is what it’s called in Europe and it’s been applicable since May of 2018. Basically, this is a fairly open standard but says the processing of personal data should be designed to serve mankind the right to the protection of personal data is not an absolute, right? It must be considered in relation to its function in society and be balanced against other fundamental rights and accordance with the principle of proportionality. The biggest changes are wider enforcement rights and the scope of regulation is now wider.
Now this will be a new format for the U.S. right now. There is no federal law governing data protection. So it’s been a state-by-state case of whether or not you have released that client information illegally or whether you’ve just been irresponsible. There was a case where one in the client, excuse me, one travel agent, left a small diskette at lunch with their client records that were taken they were held liable for a lawsuit of $20,000 just because it was taken not because anybody did anything with it, but because they lost it. Now under California’s new law which takes effect next year web users can demand that a business tell them what personal information it is collecting about them and whether it is selling or sharing it and if so to whom consumers can also demand that a company delete their information this allows people to sue companies.
Negligence leads to breaches of their personal data the rules apply to any profitable business that collects customers personal information from Google and Facebook to retail stores. The burden of proof is on the company and the company must obtain the people’s informed and unambiguous consent for processing personal data collectors must report breaches. So if you know there’s been a breach of your system your computer or a hack you need to report it to your clients ASAP. At least. That’s the first step to say, “it’s been a hack, I don’t want to hide it, I’m going to work with you to make sure that anything that can be done will be done to protect the use of that data”. Now penalties for violations are 24 million dollars or can be 4% of the company’s Global Revenue. So we expect to see the situation as a federal law potentially within a year to five years.
We don’t know yet, but there are great bushes on this the privacy standards, you can see a recent story and privacy International broke in 2019 and TripAdvisor and Kayak were sharing personal information like flight details, cabin class, or whether they’re traveling with children the Facebook. Now while the story didn’t involve camera footage it highlights how Travelers privacy can be gathered and used for profit by travel companies without the traveler’s knowledge. A major problem is that seemingly secure and reliable connections that you use are not secure as you probably been aware many businesses have begun to use What’s called the virtual private network or VPN technology and it provides business Travelers with a secure connection between the sender and the receiver businesses using VPN can secure your company and clients data from any entity monitoring the network and waiting to intercept your information.
We have other horror stories in that regard as well. Now the exposure liability due to third parties. You may not really even understand for instance, Uber – where a French man actually sued over for breaking up his marriage after the glitch. Let the wife follow his every move. As for cruise lines, you know, those little cards that they give you her wrist bracelets, etc that keep track of your credit card information perhaps where you are on the ship your favorite drink and also access to cabins, your tours?
Well, these have to be kept also and the secure location, but if there’s a breach and the cruise lines don’t necessarily identify where this is being kept or whether it’s being sold these people can come back to the travel agency saying you did not make us aware of this if you’re in a situation. Nations such as the French man was and someone of your clients is traveling with someone he perhaps they shouldn’t be the divorce attorneys. The first thing is going to be obvious to try to obtain by subpoena that information from the cruise line and it may well come back to the travel agent.
And technology thefts and liability in the travel industry. Passport information is a major target in the infamous Marriott breach which many of you may recall. Millions of passport numbers including 5.25 million unencrypted numbers for stolen in what was considered the largest data breach in history passport numbers are most often used to track information about people and their movements and subsequent blackmail.
Now the liabilities well courts have differed in different states and jurisdictions on whether stolen data is enough to cause harm, in other words, just because it’s stolen. Can you be sued? A U.S. District Judge in Washington DC ruled that plaintiffs must prove that your clients being plaintiff must prove harm in a Data Theft case, but other courts in other jurisdictions have previously determined that a breach of sensitive information is enough to show harm and that you can be sued just because you were careless.
Now one of the forms that we have developed and preparation for this is called an agreement of consent to use personal information. Basically, what we’re saying is that the customer agrees by the use of let’s say ABC travel services for the booking of travel that certain personal information may be conveyed to third parties relevant and necessary to the transportation and accommodation of your travel ABC travels shall not be responsible for the further use of set information by Third Parties by the customer personal information, including the personal information is the private information of individuals such as birth dates passport number dates of travel occupation destination preferences of accommodation and meals occupations health and cremation frequent flyer and other membership bank accounts and credit cards and other payment methods or financial information necessary.
the ceri to secure travel we also state the personal information to other people, you being the client, have the legal right to share. The provision of personal information as described above with other persons with whom you may be traveling. And with whom you agree to provide ABC Travel said the information you the client will not hold the travel agency liable for the distribution of this information to necessary third-party suppliers or the further sharing or use of this information by the third-party supplier.
Now to the extent required by law or liability for the failure of such foreign supplier protect. Your personal information is specifically excluded. If you have any concern about the disclosure of the personal age information to a foreign supplier, you should advise the travel agency well in advance of any travel reservation or arrangement being made and how long do we keep your personal reservation information? Your information is retained only so long as we need it to provide information travel services for other services to you and for a reasonable length of time thereafter in order to meet any identify purpose or other legal or business purpose and the limitations on accuracy ABC Travel may update the personal information that we have on file for you ABC Travel will not bear responsibility for any personal information that is inaccurate and you agreed to supply updated personal information to ABC Travel.
As necessary for booking procedures and ABC Travel takes reasonable steps to protect your personal information. However, the agency is not responsible for any improper use of your personal information that is beyond our reasonable control and we are not liable for the failure of any foreign supplier to protect your personal information and that’s specifically included. This is kind of format that you’re going to have to deal with because this as you see with California starting it is becoming a huge liability for travel firms.
Mistake number 3: Having the correct legal documents or forms.
First of all, what about electric electronic contracts? We’ve been asked a number of times if it’s signed electronically. Is it valid? Well, most travel contracts are created online and to protect the legitimacy of these contracts the United States adopted the electronic signature in global national Commerce Act the act confirms that electronic signatures have the same legal standing as physical pen and paper signatures contracts and records of translation transactions can’t be denied simply because they are in electronic form and the act grandfathered in existing agreements that were delivered electronically prior to October 2000. Now there are exceptions, which you don’t really need to worry about the as the travel business as they cover things like Wills, trusts, adoption, divorce, decrees, and certain areas of the UCC product recalls and a number of other transactions.
Before the East Side could be enacted states did have the opportunity to adopt the uniform electronic transaction act and it required a state-by-state adoption. But those who have not adopted the ACT control have enacted something very similar.
A comparison here as you can see between the e-sign being a federal act and the state Act is basically that the state acts take presidents over the federal act if there is a conflict.
Travel tour and travel companies can limit their liability and manage their potential Risk by using waivers and Assumption of Risk forms. So let’s talk about this for a moment. A waiver is you probably seen these in use a waiver an assumption of risk can be used as part of a tour always attempt to either sell travel insurance or obtain a waiver. That’s a waiver format. You should consider medical waivers that cover physical fitness for activities that may occur on their travel. So convening work from heart disease asthma excessive alcohol consumption. You don’t want to be held liable for that.
If you’re conducting a tour or sponsoring a tour in which you know, there are some kind of high adventure aspect of the tour you certainly want to include a separate waiver as mention what activity that is is conducted and that the person agrees that the agency of the tour company is not responsible for any accident that should for outside of the limitations of what you’ve already planned.
Now, most of these are containing what we call the terms and conditions a consumer disclosure notice. It includes a release of liability a waiver and Assumption of risk and arbitration mediation agreement.
Some of the most important aspects are basically to inform your client that you are acting as an agent for the supplier. You are not the supplier. You’re not the airline. You’re not the hotel. You’re probably not supplying any meals inside tours the travel agency. Therefore you are not responsible for breaches of contract or failure to comply with any laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or any intentional or negligent action or missions on the part of the suppliers, which result in loss damage delay and convenience, etc. Etc.
The travel agency also does not guarantee any of the suppliers rates bookings reservations connections scheduling or handling of baggage or other personal effects. You do not want to be sued for that and of course, the client that acknowledges that they’ve carefully read the above paragraphs and expressly agrees to forever release discharge and hold the agency and its agent’s employees Etc not responsible for any activities that it is not conducting.
The term of the agreement as a complete release and express assumption of risk and they, the client, understands the provision and legal consequences. And of course, now, this is something that includes also as we said the entire document also would include form such as using ADR or mediation jurisdictional terms and limitations and so forth. This is not something that we necessarily recommend the signed by your client has a standard procedure but be attached to your website and as I said can be conditioned on the website as an asterisk on page 13, 14, whatever you may want to say. But at least the use of the website is conditioned upon these terms and conditions. If you can get signed if you’re running a high adventure tour, it’s also, of course, preferable to have it signed, but we also don’t want to drive away from the potential traveler.
An assumption of risk form now many of you have seen these. I’m sure and you need to participate in using these especially now this is a general release of course that we include in the terms of conditions, but if you are running a high adventure travel, which is very popular these days, so when signing an assumption of risk form, the participant acknowledges that he/she understands the risk inherent associated with the activity. For instance, if he’s never been scuba diving before he’s not going to understand the risk if he’s never climbed up a mountain. He may never appreciate the risk either but it releases the operator from responsibility. And if you’re the operator on any of these tours, you certainly want an assumption of risk release and in order to overcome an assumption of risk.
Often the course will require gross negligence on the part of the defendant. So if it’s a supplier of yours and he has a drunken river guide or something that will overcome the Assumption of risk form. The risk has to also be relevant to the occurrence in the ordinary scope of the activity. Therefore if he client lies of yours is let’s say he’s decided to go paragliding or whatever on the tour and that’s not part of your tour. Then it’s not relevant to the occurrence and the ordinary scope of the activity. So, therefore, you’re not worried about anything with the Assumption of risk form not being accepted. He’s taking that upon himself.
Now some of the other aspects we look at our risk cancellation and insurance as part of the overall documentation. Basically, the client releases ABC Travel from any duty and checking and verifying any and all passport, visas, vaccinations, or other entry requirements at each destination and all safety security conditions.
During the length of the proposed travel and you specifically, recommend that US citizens traveling internationally including travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean do so with a valid U.S. Passport. Now you do not give out information in terms of medical, etc. or you don’t give out information because you can go ahead and you inform the has we do here that they should look at either the CDC online or they can also go to travel warnings that the government provides. If you start giving out medical information or something more than what is required as a travel agent, then the courts will make the assumption that you have now provided that kind of information and you can be held liable for it.
So be very careful in not providing it you tell them to go to their own doctor, you tell them to go online at the CDC and you tell them to go online at the U.S. State Department to make any determination to test the risk inherent in travel. You’re also not responsible for any injuries, losses, or damages in connection with terrorist activities social, or labor unrest mechanical, or structural Integrity of are see ground transportation and accommodations diseases local laws terrorist acts climatic conditions acts of God delays changes or cancellation of travel to the weather conditions, hotel services accidents, and health-related to being in transit. Again, most of all of this language comes because someone got sued and therefore continues to add this kind of language that you’ll see in so that you do not want to be held liable. As you’ve been seeing in the news recently, the problems that have been happening in one of the islands were especially the Dominican Republic and you’ve had a number of people that have been fine.
The dying associate is, particularly with a certain hotel. Now in the standard of practice for the travel industry you are liable to know what is normal for the travel agent, reading the travel journals, reading other information, and passing that on you are not liable for knowing specifics. So if you had a client who was at this point, let’s say traveling to the Dominican Republic, please make them aware to go online. And if they were traveling to a particular hotel site that may have experienced these difficulties then you certainly should make them aware of the situation.
Another important aspect is the traveler’s responsibility to protect their purchasers. And again, as we say travel insurance strongly recommended and appropriate The Travelers retention of tickets reservations or bookings after issuance by the travel agency will constitute consent to the above an agreement on his or her part to convey the contents to his travel companions or group members. As part of the problem is often being in a group trip that the leader who fails to pass on this type of information to the other members of the group and the other member of the group has an accident they may try to sue the travel agency saying they were not made aware. So again, a waiver and assumption of risk.
Now there’s a bonus! We’re going to talk briefly about some Canadian law now, what’s most interesting in this aspect is that the terms are going to talk about and the conditions will not necessarily.
Adamant that they have to be followed in many of the states. Florida does have some of the same restrictions in California as well. But the important just simply of course if you have Canadian clients, but the important simply because they are good advice and they should be followed on that basis.
Considerations for Canadians clarity with respect to calculating the independent contractor compensation and that’s a whole other field. We will talk about at some point, hopefully in the future, and that’s the independent contractor agreements their mandatory, of course in several states such as Florida. What should it include it’s mandatory in Canada what expenses are deducted and what documentation will be provided by an agency to the independent contractor? What amount is payable by the independent contractor? If the agency does work for the independent contractor’s clients. Clarity with respect to payment of independent contractor compensation. When will the amount owing to be paid? What documentation will in agency provide to back up these calculations and what conditions are attached to the payment? All of these can be very helpful in the United States as well. So they’re mandatory in Canada.
Not mandatory in the U.S. but look at terms such as this especially if you’re involved in an independent contractor agreement.
Again, and following page indemnification by the independent contractor what types of claim will be independent contractors provide and indemnity the breach of the agreement by the clients by credit card companies and employment benefit should all be addressed in an independent contractor agreement. And it’s mandatory in Canada the length of the independent contractor indemnification. It needs to continue beyond the termination of the agreement continuing on of course compliance with provincial BC Ontario Quebec travel laws. This is mandatory. They cannot meet the client at home. Very interesting because of course, that’s not the situation any of the states that I know of here.
Not using residential details in marketing materials payment from clients must be made to the agency. Now that’s mandatory in Florida and several other states, but it is a very, very good policy to follow. I’ve had situations with independent contractors that have taken checks themselves and have deposited to their own bank and then if issued what they considered the amount appropriated to the travel agency and then directly issue the amount appropriated to the travel supplier. They can’t understand why this is very much of a No-No and should never be done. Payments placed in the trust account within 48 Hours of receipt again mandatory in Canada. Not in Most states here client funds held in trust until all suppliers paid. That is a very good practice obviously.
Agency details including license number included in all representations. That’s a very good practice here. And in fact, is mandatory in the state of Florida and several other states that you include your license number. If you need to be licensed in that state in any representation on your website, on your documentation, especially in your advertisement and you advise clients that travel insurance is available, of course full disclosure with respect to travel services that are provided to the client again a very helpful idea for us agents and mandatory in Canada and advising clients of changes that affect travel services and in Canada, they have to believe and they have to pass applicable professional exams in the travel industry.
Now for our associates in Canada, just to briefly mention about them Tim Crozier and seemingly Doug Crozier and Tim law they’ve been from a firm in Canada for a long time practicing the travel industry and we associate with them quite frequently when we may have a mutual problem between U.S. And Canada and they’re good members of too.
Contact details for ourselves as you can see right here. And now I will pass it back to our host and terms of any questions. (Stephanie speaking) Yeah, thank you so much. That was so much we got tons of questions to go through real quick apologies. I thought I had my camera off by the way so just wanted to say apologies for that. But all these questions though, I tried to break them down because we had all kinds of questions and all the different types of mistakes we were talking about but one of the biggest questions that we got that I want you to chat about Lawrence is about the forms. Where can people get these forms? A lot of Agents were asking are these available, were they available and where can they find these a lot of the forms that you were going over?
(Laurence speaking) Well, what we were doing when I was doing several of the lectures before the same kind of questions came up, so we developed basically a pen drive which contained all the forms and also a couple of our seminars which were usually one our seminars and we made those available from our law office. That was a hundred ninety-nine. We also can supply online all of the forms for a similarly reduced price of about ninety-nine dollars. So you can contact our travel Law Firm for those forms and we’ll be glad to provide those.
(Stephanie speaking) Perfect. Awesome, and a question here that just came into is do you or your firm offer advisor packages for those forms? (Laurence speaking) Yes, we do. We also have an increased situation where we will offer a substantial discount to travel agents where they not only receive the form but we can personalize the format to their agency including their agency name, letterhead and we do send out a questionnaire to the agency or the agent which helps us personalize the form beyond that. We do have another package that we offer where we can get continuing advice throughout the year fill out all the formwork and specifically insist the agents for an entire year for a flat fee rather than every single time you pick up the phone. You’re going to get charged.
(Stephanie speaking) Perfect. Yeah, and someone just mentioned on the website that’s on here [the screen] right now. (Laurence speaking) It might yeah, it looks like it has a little bit of a spelling error. I think that’s my fault. It’s your website though to get this information is GoreinternationalLaw.com. Is that correct? That’s our general website for the law firm. Yes, but contact us do as I’ve above through the email. We also have we should have that on there but an additional email which is Lawrence tea, I’m sorry, which is Gore National Law at gmail.com.
(Stephanie speaking) Perfect. Yeah, and anyone on here to after you get the email follow-up after this feel free to reply back to us and we can get this contact information to you and that website as well. So feel free to reach out about that. But now I want to talk about the first mistakes I kind of trying to keep these all into one here because a lot of the same kind of questions were a little bit answer asked and one is about mistake number one with running and operating a business one person asks, I am LLC but single owner, is that okay?
(Laurence speaking) That’s fine as an LLC single owner. LLC is looked at the same as it’s basically any other Corporation in regards to legal liabilities. It’s only liable for the assets owned by the LLC where you need to be careful is that you do not put any other assets into the LLC, such as your car perhaps any other equipment that may be used if some people who run more specialized travel we form separate LLC’s. The LLC will hold the equipment, the other LLC which is the operating entity doing reservations, etc. will simply have no assets outside of the EU.
They know their personal computer or what have you and therefore, if a lawsuit happens and they get through to the LLC and there’s a liability factor is not going to be much there and a lot of attorneys for the plaintiffs will first of all look at that the LLC and say hey, even if we win this, what are we going to be able to go after so certainly it’s very advisable to use an LLC or a sub S corporation in this regard and very helpful a recommended some host agencies make it mandatory now that you have to act in the capacity as an LLC or sub S corporation.
(Stephanie speaking) Okay, and another question here and you might have kind of covered this one, but I know that we have a lot of independent contractors on this call while so I thought this would be really helpful as one person asked what would be recommended if I do business as XYZ company through a travel agency as an independent contractor. (Laurence speaking) That’s what also very very much recommended. Of course, you can use whatever you could use your personal name. I don’t typically recommend that but it’s helpful and it’s also very advisable that as an independent contractor you use an LLC or sub S format as well again that restricts your liabilities. You also want to look at the independent contractor agreement, which is really a subject for a whole other seminar, but make sure that it clarify what it says in there a lot of independent contractor agreements with the LLC or the individual themselves mix-up.
An independent contractor and an employee and we’ve had a number of cases where that’s a problem the post agent especially if it’s smaller host agent thinks they can demand certain hours at the individual work. So they have to show up on Saturdays, etc. what they can and cannot do you can’t have those in an independent contractor agreement and the host that is putting those in there can be subject to IRS penalties as well.
(Stephanie speaking) That’s really good information to know. There is one question that was unique in this is really perfect because you’re in Florida as well. And someone said I’m a home base agent and have the LLC registered under my home address as required by the state of Florida, but all mail goes to USPS post office box. Am I exposing personal assets? (Laurence speaking) Now you’re not the olc as long as again. As I said as long as you do not put any of your assets in there. It’s not infrequent for somebody to say. Well, I’ve got a company I’m going to make the company car so I can write it off not a good idea. Maybe you want to write the car off anyway, but you know, there are ways to do Transportation as a right off of that putting an automobile or anything else possible into that LLC.
(Stephanie speaking) Perfect, and now moving on to and I know that we have other questions you so just head’s up too since we probably will get through all the questions to feel free to reach out to me and we can get you the contact information and I can follow up with Lawrence too as well on that. But I want to move to mistake number two, there is one question that just came in and it was a really good one is in securing client information and data. Do you recommend that travel businesses use only a secure Cloud location like Dropbox to keep client data? (Laurence speaking) That’s very recommended in keeping your data in the cloud one of the biggest problems as I said, you might put them on a disk you made and the access to that information, especially if you’re running from your household, you don’t want anyone else in the household to be able to get on the computer and access access that information not because they may intentionally do it.
But because you may have a hacker involved and the information then becomes exposed and you become liable for that. So again putting it in the Cloud is very very important. If not some secure method does not just leave the computer on for any of the kids or spouses to go look at and regard to that information. It needs to be protected and you’ve you’re taking it with you on your cell phone or whatever again, you need to make sure that that information is protected. We have situations where actually we talked about another seminar you have individuals who will proceed through a let’s say a casino or hotel lobby. They have what’s called a pineapple and what that is is it pretends to be the hotel’s Wi-Fi and so it connects to the hotel Wi-Fi and now all of your information becomes exposed.
this individual actually one of our clients, so to speak who deals in that type of activity he knew what was happening. He approached the individual afterward. He said I’m not the police but he said tell me what you do with that and he said I don’t really have anything to do except take the pineapple to deliver it on a weekly basis and receive $10,000. I don’t know the people I deliver it to. So it’s very easy to access this if your information is not well protected. And again, the hackers are out there. They’ve done just everything they get online as well. They pretend to be even large law firms who had situations where they’ve taken the client for two and three hundred thousand dollars in losses thinking they word actually dealing with the real law firm because they use their something mimicking their website.
(Stephanie speaking) Wow, that is crazy. That that is something like that exists is good to always be aware of what’s going on. Another question, kind of dealing with security and privacy is and you kind of you’re talking about others many horror stories for this. So I think this is one is cruise technology, such as Princess Medallion technology, agency could be held because it could the agency be held liable if Cruise Lines technology is hacked.
(Laurence speaking) Yes, actually it could it’s a developing field I had a talk onboard the ship there was a reception for some attorneys and others about two years ago when this technology was just coming out and I spoke with one of their counsel and I said, how are you protecting this information now that it’s able to be gathered so easily and basically he said well, let me tell you what happened marketing got ahead of legal and he said we’re having to catch up with this.
So yes the information, you know should be addressed to the client that you’re you’ve got to keep your information protect it because you know what information may go on those medallions and you could be held liable the special in the result of situation like a divorce or something where the client shouldn’t be with the person they’re supposed to be with. Yeah, and that’s and yeah, it’s something again. (Stephanie speaking) Yeah be very aware of that. The other thing too is is let’s see it will do a couple of questions here. And I know we got started a little bit later as well here but to kind of go into mistake number three how this was kind of a good one is how do you suggest that we explain these forms to clients won’t this make them skittish about booking with us. So have you ever had to deal with that where you’re like, I need you to fill these forms out and you know explain why or did you have them question? (Laurence speaking) Well, yes in general we the terms and conditions agreement that I have on there. We usually will attach that as I said to the website, it can be on the back page, but it has to be noticed at the beginning of the website is something like the use of this website is conditioned upon your acceptance of the terms and conditions on page wherever you start the cruise lines do this. The airline’s do this. It doesn’t have to be right in front of them.
As long as there is a format it’s better if they have to click and agree to the terms and conditions. That’s the best recommendation but the courts have held as long as it’s provided on there somewhere. Now, of course, you’d like to add the client sign it but you don’t want to chase the client away either in person to have all these terms and conditions for its most important is on an adventure tour type of travel that these terms and conditions be signed by the client themselves because there are a lot of liabilities there and you need to know have a little experience with what you’re selling and the companies are selling for instance. One of my clients is a travel agency tour company that deals with hiking in the end. He’s the local supplier of these tours cannot obtain any type of insurance down there. So you want to know what how well they are covered and that they’re covered and that you’re not going to be sued because of somebody in your group.
Them for an act they committed. So they’re interesting forms like that. I actually I represented the company which dealt with chartering French River cruises on the small side the little boats and they were presented with a one-page agreement. Well, that’s completely insufficient to cover them. So, you know, we had to do a three or four-page agreement and it had to be covered under European Union law as well. So you’ve got to watch your suppliers and you’ve got to watch your suppliers, they may use and make sure that they cannot come back after you for any liability.
(Stephanie speaking) Great, that’s really good. And one more question here is for Canadian law. And I know and you touched on this but in the Canadian law when it says when you mention not meeting the client and home did that refer to the independent contractors home or the clients home? (Laurence speaking) You know, it basically referred to the client’s fault to be extremely careful. They can’t actually visit a client at home which seems rather strange because another especially if you’re an independent contractor, you may go visit the client at home. That’s not permitted in Canada.
(Stephanie speaking) Yeah, yeah, that’s so crazy that the things you learn the pineapple the Canadian laws. Yeah, it’s all really good. And actually, that was a quick question. So I’ll do one more here. So this one question is I have clients pay me a research fee and I get commissions. However, I do not use my corporate credit card to pay for any of my client’s reservations. I provide there’s is this okay and does it have any inherent risks you have not already discussed?
(Laurence speaking) If you’re using their card, as long as you have such a release like we’re talking about especially contained in that use of personal information, which is pretty new that basically excludes you from any liabilities and them because they’re supplying their credit card. You’re informing them that you’re going to supply the information to a third party and it’s necessary as part of the travel to do this. And therefore you cannot be held liable for what the third-party may do with that information, but it’s very important to have one of these to release a personal information type of documents now in the business, it’s very very much especially if you’re hacked for instance. You’ve got all this personal information on there. So you don’t want to be held liable the most extent you possibly can and really protect your information especially in use of their credit cards. You want to tell them how long you are retaining their credit card.
You try not to use their credit card in any online document which could be hacked. So you’ve got to be careful there. (Stephanie speaking) Yeah, that’s really great to know and thank you so much again. I know this was a lot of great information. We had a lot of great comments from people that found this very helpful just to mention a couple of things before we go here is that you will get the recording after this. I know some people mentioned wanting slide information. And then also we had a couple of people ask about transcripts. So just follow up I can provide, you know transcripts after this once the video renders and goes through but other than that, I just want to say thanks again everyone and thank you so much Lawrence this thank you so much for taking your time to let us know about all this information is very very important information to know. (Laurence speaking) Well, you’re welcome. That was just an overview has I said a number of programs which deal more
intently with a lot of these documents and concepts. (Stephanie speaking) Yeah, each one of these slides could have been a whole hour webinar. There’s so much information involved. But again, if you want to check out Lawrence’s website or email him. You can also email us for that contact information, but have a great day everyone and enjoy the rest of your day and have a great rest of your weekend. Thank you so much again, Laurence. (Laurence speaking) Thank you. Appreciate. Thanks. Bye.