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We all like to think we can take care of our clients’ travel needs wherever their final destinations. In offering to handle such arrangements, operators need to realize that while we are all playing the same game, the rules vary among foreign countries. After learning more about the differences, you might decide to only handle domestic ground transportation.
For instance, if you call Vietnam to get a transfer rate from Hanoi International Airport to a local hotel, the average quote will be about $1,429,155 dongs. A dong is the Vietnamese currency equivalent to our dollar. While that might sound like a large amount, it’s worth only U.S. $63. Other countries have laws that require you to buy the chauffeur’s meal at certain times of the day. You also may encounter a charge from your credit card provider for using your card in another country. Foreign farm-outs involve many pitfalls that can cost you big money.
Finding a reputable service operator is the first step. You might be inclined to search the Internet for providers in a given city and try to find the lowest price. Imagine the reverse scenario of a well-to-do Vietnamese family traveling from Hanoi to Los Angeles seeking the best price for lodging. As a result of their budget conscious planning, they end up at a discount motel chain such as Motel 6. While Tom Bodett might have left the light on for them, they will surely be disappointed.
If you are going to farm-out, be sure to perform due diligence and research the company you choose to represent you. One of the best and most reliable methods of locating a vendor in another country is consulting the National Limousine Association Directory or calling the NLA office, even if you are not a member. The NLA has members in 56 countries. They seek to do business with transportation providers in the U.S. and invest in membership to make such connections. Many of these members attend the International LCT Show in Las Vegas each year. If you plan to farm orders to other countries, you should attend the International Operators mixer at the 2016 Show and collect business cards.
If you don’t want to risk the slippery slope of international farm-outs, contact a global network such as Carey, BostonCoach or EmpireCLS, and ask them to handle the order for you. Even if you are not an affiliate, we are all in the same business together and they are much more poised to handle these jobs. You can provide your client with a quote you are confident with and know that the service will be reliable.
Communicating with an operator in another country presents new challenges with differences in time, language, currency, procedures and the abbreviated jargon we commonly use such as A/D (as-directed) or W/R (wait and return).
We all feel more comfortable and confident about a transaction when speaking to a live person. However, the complications and expense of making an international phone call can eat up all your profit before you even get the job.
AT&T charges $2.71 per minute. A 10-minute call will cost $27.10! Not to mention, you might be calling Hanoi at the beginning of your business day in Los Angeles when it is near midnight in Hanoi.
No one may be available to speak to you. Email is probably the best method for communicating since it provides all parties with a written record of communication, and you won’t have to worry about interpreting foreign accents.
If you want to attempt a phone call, a simple guide to international calling can be found in the sidebar. Remember, do not use abbreviations or industry slang so nothing is lost in translation. AW (Authorized Wait) might mean something completely different in Hanoi.