TRIP INSURANCE. YES OR NO?
Let’s face it, the decision to buy trip insurance can be confusing and never seems to be a straight line. If you ask ten people about the subject, I’m guessing the opinion on its value and necessity would be evenly split. So, what’s the deal?
In my opinion, it’s worth every penny. And while trip insurance will never cover every reason for a trip cancellation, it does provide a measure of protection for both the traveler and the destination business.
Most travelers are aware that every lodge, outfitter and guide has terms and conditions just like most other services- oriented businesses. Of course, cancellations within listed terms and conditions are also part of any business model and most of our industry offers total refunds for cancellations well in advance. The reason for that is simple. With advanced notice, we can often re-sell the trip and not incur any losses. To be sure, things get more than complicated by short notice cancellations.
Depending on the size and cost of the package, a cancellation can be a minor issue at best or a devastating financial loss at worst for a lodge or outfitter. Here are a few things you, as the traveler might not have considered.
As lodges and outfitters, we incur the expense of the trip long before you arrive. Guides and staff are arranged and secured months, sometimes even a year in advance and most importantly, guides and staff are paid even if there’s a cancellation. That’s right. Our industry believes that as professional guides they have made a commitment and scheduled their lives accordingly to maximize their season and it’s only fair to pay them for the days we’ve asked them to secure. Additionally, the lodge or outfitter has held your dates for a long time thereby losing the option to sell those dates to another party. It’s a double whammy. Literally, the lodge or outfitter incurs the loss of the entire trip expense and the ability to resell the trip as well. A short notice cancellation results in a total out of pocket loss for the lodge or outfitter.
I was talking with a colleague last week and he was totally stressed out over a cancellation. The customer had gotten irate and downright nasty when told he would not be getting a refund since he was cancelling on three days notice. The customer was a repeat guest, assumed he would be given a pass, and threatened my colleague with all sorts of things. In the end, my colleague was more bemused than anything. And he summed up the situation by saying, “It’s always strange to me that people think it’s okay for me to take a $10,000 plus loss but not them.”
Increasingly our industry and colleagues are affirmatively suggesting guests purchase trip insurance and some are even requiring it as part of their terms and conditions.
In the end, I’ve decided it’s just not fair for lodges and outfitters to be expected to absorb losses due to short notice cancellations. And at this point in my career, I might even be so bold as to say that you as customers shouldn’t expect your favorite lodge or outfitter to give you a break for a cancellation outside of terms and conditions.
Nobody wants the added expense of buying trip insurance. But it’s the right thing to do and will protect both you and your favorite lodge or outfitter from having to incur substantial financial losses due to a cancellation.
If you have any questions about trip insurance or need more details about how to plan a trip with Linehan Outfitting give us a call anytime. 406-295-4872