You might think this is a fairly dull subject from me, but nevertheless very important. I did a little research last night for my Athena one minute and even I was shocked at this list. What do they all have in common?
Excel, Holiday Options, Goldtrail, Longshot, Holidays4U, Tapestry Holidays, Kosmar, Argo, Cadogan Holidays, Dream Holidays, Skyjet, Kiss flights, Real Traveller, Monster Travel, Qantas Holidays, Astraeus, Phoenix Hlidays, Zoom, Sea France, 3D Golf, Bill Goff, Little Black Book, African Safari Club, 1st 4 Cruising, Gills Cruises, Voyana Luxury Cruising, Libra Holidays, Barwell Travel, Malev Hungarian, Spanair, and Dreamticket.
I’m sure you guessed correctly that all these have ceased trading, at least in the UK. I will clarify that Cadogan took a voluntary decision to cease trading and Qantas Holidays will continue to trade in Australasia and Asia but will wind down their UK operation
Thomas Cook have managed to borrow another 1.4 billion to tide them over until May 2015 so that will be enough to keep thm afloat, however they still had to sell off some of their assets in Europe
There are of course numerous reasons for these financial failures but the main ones are as follows, tour operators selling unsold holidays below cost and using client deposits to fund new contracts, the recession and lack of confidence in spending, airlines cutting commission to agents, APD tax increase, more clients booking online.
The reality is that booking online is not always cheaper and most will not protect your money. Do you even exactly know who you are paying? Who do you phone when things go wrong? Or even if you need to change your arrangements?
Following the loophole in which Travel Republic won their case last year. The CAA approached the government for tighter regulations on what constitutes a package and financial protection to the consumer.
The CAA agreed with the government to set up Flight Plus which is a flight plus car hire or any sort of accommodation. This is a tailor made arrangement not sold as a full package but it does offer additional protection to you the customer.
If the flight company goes bust, it is our obligation under the new rules to either find you an alternative flight or refund both the flight and the accommodation. The ruling also ensures that if Travel Counsellors were to go bust the CAA would reimburse you
Since 2004, our unique insurance already offered a refund in the event of a supplier going bust so we only had to make a few modifications from our existing arrangement to satisfy the CAA and consequently Travel Counsellors were the first agency in the whole of the UK to gain approval. Only a handful of agencies have already been approved but most still haven’t put their policies in place and are currently trading incorrectly.
Our commitment to you the consumer and to the CAA means that Travel Counsellors now has to protect our additional risk and pay insurance to the CAA, in addition to the protection we already had in place with our existing trust fund and also my personal liability insurance, should I make a rare but costly error.
The implication to you is an ATOL fee of £2.50 per person and a small increase in booking fees on tailor made bookings. This has also proved necessary to cover the considerable increase in postage costs. I will still keep my booking fees to a minimum in order to remain competitive but in return I will offer you the best financial protection and personal service in the entire UK Travel Industry and my individual fees are still lower than most high street agencies and definitely lower than most other service industries.