The latest blow to the travel industry brought about by Brexit has further highlighted the inevitable downfall of the traditional tour operator and travel agent. Technology has significantly contributed towards this collapse, and although many travel companies have adjusted their businesses to accommodate the online trend, recent profit warnings threaten to change the nature of package holidays entirely.
The big boys of travel
The appeal of using tour operators has always been ease of use. Letting someone else take risks and do all the hard work has a certain charm. And many busy customers are prepared to pay a little extra for this service. However, the recent announcement of a £1.5 billion pre-tax half-year loss by Thomas Cook has sent one of the oldest UK tour operators into a spin and left customers demanding reassurance that their bookings are secure. Confidence in the company has plummeted despite a string of offers to buy parts of the business and buoy up its finances. Rapidly gaining motion, the downward trend in booking a package holiday has also prompted Tui and EasyJet to announce significant financial losses despite ATOL backing.
The Air Travel Organiser’s Licence
The big bonus of booking through one of the heavyweights of the travel industry is the ATOL licence. Obligatory for all tour operators who offer packages which include flights, the scheme provided by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is a means of protecting customers against unforeseen events that involve air travel. A safeguard which guarantees flight rearrangement for repatriation (plus accommodation and other items included in a package holiday) or a refund if disaster strikes pre-travel.
However, a package which includes coach travel or rail travel is not necessarily covered. In such cases, providing the tour operators are members and bookings are from within the EEA, the ABTA scheme can be called into action.
DIY travel tips
Entirely due to the wealth of information on the internet and accessibility via mobile phones, tablets and laptops, 80% of travellers now organise DIY holiday packages. However, with this freedom to assemble a holiday which fits your lifestyle and budget, comes time restrictions and risk.
Organising appropriate travel insurance can reduce this risk. And using a credit or debit card to pay for a holiday over £100 (which is not ATOL or ABTA protected), can a means for acquiring a refund. For anything less than £100, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act or Chargeback scheme can help with a recover a payment made via card payment.
If you are risk-averse or don’t have the time to search the internet for the perfect deal, then a travel counsellor could be a solution. Their bespoke travel solutions are tailored to your needs with the help of expert advice, and there is the security of payment protection from an independent financial trust.