Why should you use a Travel Agent?

Recently there has been a spate of travel companies who have found themselves in financial difficulties, and sadly some of these have been highly respected specialist companies that have been in business even longer than I’ve been in travel and that is a very long time. I refer to the Preston Group which included Amathus, Longwood and Preston themsleves

Yesterday we learnt that the On Holiday Group including Euro Rooms and Holiday Brokers has also disappeared

Both of these took us totally by surprise. We didn’t see the writing on the wall so this is a worrying trend as there is no indication who might go next and when.

It is exactly situations like these that show the value of booking with a properly protected ATOL and in fact Travel Counsellors have two layers of protection. In the case of Amathus and Longwood, both of them were covered by ATOL. I actually had clients in Cyprus, the clients were almost unaffected by the failure of their holiday company. The only minor hiccup was their transfer back to the airport which I sorted out.

In the second scenario that the bedbank failed the second layer of protection kicks in which is out unique financial trust. Fortunately I had no clients with Euro Rooms or Holiday Brokers but many Travel Counsellors did and ironically I almost used them for my own holiday. In nearly all cases we managed to get all forward bookings reprotected with other suppliers at no additional cost and for clients who were in resort our insurance would have covered the cost of hotels which had not been prepaid by the failed supplier. In the worst case scenario where we would not be able to transfer the booking we would then offer an alternative accommodation or a full refund.

We are on top of these situations and deal with them immediately, often before the customer has even realised there is a problem

If either of these had been booked let’s say on the internet with Ryanair and Booking.com, Trivago or Late Rooms separately there is no such protection so if the accommodation in that instance had been booked through Euro Rooms or Holiday Brokers. All these companies use bedbanks as well as direct contracts and so do we but at least we do have back up plans in place.

Without the protection of ATOL or the security of an insurance policy who would you contact? Would your accommodation be reprotected? Do they have insurance in place? Are they financially secure? Do they have a rescue plan? Would you have to pay again? Well there are many questions and I must admit, I don’t know the answers for sure. All tour operators have to be covered by ATOL as this is a legal requirement but bedbanks and hotel suppliers are not always regulated.

There have been a lot of cases of clients who had to pay their hotel bills again or that have been scammed by accommodation that didn’t exist even with well known sites

Sometimes other events happen, bad weather, natural disasters or illnesses and we on hand to help with those situations too.

All hotels overbook during busy times. This is one reason why I always email hotels in advance to remind them of special requests birthdays or anniversaries, first timers, repeat customers, any excuse really for contacting them and just reminding them that we care.

Surely the internet is cheaper? Surely travel agents must be making a huge profit? Well these are questions I can answer. The internet is sometimes cheaper, but not always and yes we do make a profit, but probebly not as much as you think. Does anybody work for nothing? I’m pretty sure you don’t. In fact I work very long hours to ensure that you have a suitable and secure holiday at a competitive price and I know speak for most of us who work in travel. We are on hand 24/7 to sort out any unexpected problems.

To clarify full packages included flights from or back to the UK (even if one way is by train or another form of transport) A flight p, including plus any sort of acco0mmodation or car are is coverered by ATOL flight plus and you are issued with a certificate stating exactly who to contact in the event of supplier failure. Anything that is not covered by ATOL, including Eurostar holidays, hotel only, most flight only (some are covered by ATOL).

If you would like a hassle freeand fully protected holiday please contact me cathie.odea@travelcounsellors.com

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