Managing freelance guides and clients

Discussion in 'Employment & HR' started by K0608, Jul 21, 2021.

  1. K0608

    K0608 Full Member

    186 6

    I run a mountaineering business and we employ freelance guides for most of our work. 95% of the time, there are no issues, but when clients need to cancel or postpone, then it can be a bit tricky to juggle, still make a profit and keep everyone happy.

    We pay guides £170/day, which is pretty standard in our line of work.
    If work is cancelled, then the guide gets £100 for the cancelled day, unless we can redeploy them, which is tricky to do, as all our other work would have already been staffed.

    We ask clients to take out cancellation insurance and it's a condition of their booking that they are aware that they need to do this, although, in reality, they rarely do, probably due to the perceived hassle and cost (which is actually quite small).

    If a client doesn't take out insurance and asks to postpone or to cancel, then we're quickly made to feel like the bad guys if we were to slam down the book and that telling them that they've signed up to our Ts&Cs and that they should have taken out insurance doesn't tend to go down well. There's enough competition that clients will quickly take their business elsewhere in the future.

    For example, a client had booked for next week, it was a late booking, but we found a guide and so it was all pretty straightforward. Then, the client emailed yesterday to ask whether he could postpone it, as one of his group couldn't make the original dates. I, therefore, had to cancel the guide and to keep him happy, pay him the £100 cancellation fee. So, this booking will no longer make any profit, but it would seem pretty harsh to tell the client that it's no possible and that they need to then claim on their insurance (if they have taken one out, which I doubt).

    Another client, who had booked three days with us, injured himself (a simple slip and nothing that the guide could have done to avoid it from happening) on the first day and so couldn't make the remaining two days. I felt duty-bound to still pay the freelancer for two days, and so explained to the client that I would give them whatever was leftover, which turned out to be very little (our margins are quite small). Had he taken out insurance, he could have made a claim for those two days and everyone would have been happy. Instead, I think that the client has gone away with a bad taste in his mouth, despite it being his fault for not taking out insurance. I've not heard from him since.

    Does anyone have any suggestions that could help keep both clients and freelancers happy in the future, please? Keeping our freelance staff happy and valued is as important as keeping the clients happy.
    Posted: Jul 21, 2021 By: K0608 Member since: May 22, 2017
  2. Newchodge

    Newchodge Contributor

    15,871 4,466
    Can you include the insurance in your price, taking away the clients' choice in the matter?
    Posted: Jul 21, 2021 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
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  3. K0608

    K0608 Full Member

    186 6
    I have considered this and have approached TIF Group (who own Holiday Safe), but haven't heard anything from them.

    Also, am I making a mountain out of molehills, as this doesn't often happen, but I would like to have slightly more robust systems in place that would protect everyone.
    Posted: Jul 21, 2021 By: K0608 Member since: May 22, 2017
  4. Fagin2021

    Fagin2021 Full Member

    353 225
    I have a very similar situation with bookings for holiday accommodation. FWIW this is what I do...

    1. Make sure the advice to take out cancellation insurance is highlighted in both the T&Cs and on the booking form or other acknowledgement. As you say - they rarely do.

    2. Ensure your cancellation terms are clear. In my case the person booking enters a contract on payment of a deposit. If they then cancel at any time up to the booking they remain responsible for the full booked amount unless the accommodation is re-booked by someone else for the same period.

    Make sure you have a watertight contract, even if you don't enforce it.

    In your situation I'd try to cover the 'what happens if...' (like an accident on the mountain) in the contract.

    It's then up to you to decide how rigorous you want to be on a case-by-case basis.

    The way I look at it is this... If someone has booked accommodation, say 9 months in advance, then wants to cancels with a month to go, they have prevented other people from taking those dates for 8 months. Why should I bear the cost of the cancellation ?
    Posted: Jul 21, 2021 By: Fagin2021 Member since: Jan 27, 2021
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  5. Owen Parry

    Owen Parry UKBF Newcomer

    32 5
    In the second instance, you could put some onus on the guides, as someone who was hurt during the trip and is subsequently unable to make follow-ups, you are unable to pay the guides for their remaining days missed.

    In this case it seems like you need to be more rigorous really, you're a business not a charity. Are these people not paying up front for their trips?
    Posted: Jul 23, 2021 By: Owen Parry Member since: Apr 8, 2021
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  6. Financial-Modeller

    Financial-Modeller Contributor

    1,137 439
    Could you sell flexibility by offering two prices @K0608 ?

    One price paid at time of booking which is non-refundable, and a higher price payable on the day, with free cancellation.

    It seems to work well for hire cars, flights, accommodation etc.
    Posted: Jul 27, 2021 By: Financial-Modeller Member since: Jul 3, 2012
  7. intheTRADE

    intheTRADE Contributor

    502 183
    I would be immediately adding a clause to the T&Cs that if the customer cancels, £100 cancellation fee would be retained to allow you to pay the guide. Cancelled bookings costing you £100 is madness
    Posted: Jul 27, 2021 By: intheTRADE Member since: Apr 14, 2019
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