I've been asked by a potential client for an invitation & booking list for one of my trips so that she can get her visa. She hasn't yet booked. I'm suspicious, but she may actually be genuine...she didn't choose my cheapest trip.
The potential client is Russian, my business is based in the UK, and the trip is in Italy
I have no specific knowledge or experience of this problem but from a business perspective, howabout taking a non-refundable deposit (even if the visa is denied), then doing the visa letter, then taking the balance? Or would that be a liability still, not sure.
Last time I had to do a visa for someone to come to UK I had to talk to the British embassy in the country that the non-British person was coming from...... have you tried contacting the Italian embassy in Russia?
Thanks for your comment Alex
Good to hear from you :-)
Yes, I had planned to ask for a non-returnable deposit before sending any documentation that showed she had entered into any agreement with me.
I just wondered how normal this type of request is either before or after booking.
We get these kind of enquiries quite a bit, though more often from African countries than from Russia.
You do need to be careful not to be facilitating entry visas for people who end up not booking with you. So, as you and Alex have suggested, insisting on collecting a deposit and signed booking form up front is best. Once they have entered into a contract with you to run the tour, you can be as helpful as you like.
We tend to find that very often, once we've explained this, their formerly keen interest in the tour disappears and we never hear from them again.
For genuine enquirers though, it can be a tough situation. There are several perfectly valid reasons why they may not want to pay a non-refundable deposit in advance...
- They may not get issued a tourist visa, no matter what helpful paperwork you have issued
- For late bookings, they may not get the visa in time
- Visa applications for some nationalities & destinations can take a long time to process and get approved. They may not want to commit to flights (or be able to buy flights) until they have the visa, by which time the flights may have become unaffordable or unavailable.
In these situations, that is a risk that the customer needs to take on and consider, and I'd suggest you stick to your guns and have a general principle that deposits and bookings must always be paid first before you send anything out.
Many thanks for the full reply and for the benefit of your experience. Much appreciated!
The fears you expressed about facilitating an entry visa were exactly my thoughts. However, as you say, it could be a genuine case. Fortunately time is on our side, so if she is genuine it could all work.
Do you offer a reduced deposit from your normal one for cases like this, or keep to your normal deposit fees?