Travel Firm Failures Raise Awareness of Consumer Protection

Travel Firm Failures Raise Awareness of Consumer Protection

Nine out of ten Brits say it is important that their holiday is financially protected, according to research by World Travel Market London, the leading global event for the travel industry. The research, released today (Monday 7 November), also found just 5% of holidaymakers were unaware of ABTA and ATOL logos, while 70% actively look for the symbols for reassurance when booking a break.

The vote of confidence follows a spate of high-profile collapses and terrorist incidents overseas, which raised awareness of financial protection – and the perils of not being protected.

The failure of Lowcostholidays in July hit the national headlines, as more than 100,000 customers were left out of pocket – including 27,000 people who were abroad when administrators were called in. Lowcostholidays did not have an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) – the Civil Aviation Authority scheme which protects UK package holidaymakers when firms go bust – because the firm moved its business to Spain in 2013.

Several Turkey specialists have gone out of business in the past year, as the market was hit by terrorism attacks and the attempted coup. And speculation about the extension of Monarch’s ATOL also hit the headlines in September.

The WTM London research echoes findings from ABTA about the increased awareness of protection among consumers after the flurry of failures.

The travel association said in September that 73% of people recognise the ABTA logo, representing an increase of 2% from 2015.

Victoria Bacon, ABTA Director of Brand and Business Development, said: “During a period when online holiday fraud has increased, and when high-profile global events have thrown a spotlight on the industry, it is clear that the confidence that the ABTA badge brings, and the consumer advice and support that we are able to provide on behalf of our members are more important than ever.”

The CAA reported that the number of ATOL protected bookings rose for the fourth consecutive year in the 2015-16 financial year, with 25.2 million holidaymakers protected by the ATOL scheme, up from 23.8 million the year before.

The association runs a nationwide ‘Pack Peace of Mind’ campaign during peak booking periods, to raise awareness of the benefits of ATOL.

According to an independent YouGov poll for foreign currency provider First Rate, almost three-quarters of respondents (72%) think ATOL protection is important. The poll also found that ATOL is a priority for 79% of those aged 55 and over, while only 55% of those aged 18 to 24 agree that holiday protection is important.

Paul Richer, Senior Partner of technology firm Genesys, warned that consumers did not realise the implications of Lowcostholidays being headquartered in Spain – and urges more action by the travel trade to highlight the problems.

“These are passengers that could have travelled with UK companies that had taken the trouble and gone to the expense to be ATOL, ABTA or TTA [Travel Trust Association] bonded,” he said.

“Why didn’t these holidaymakers book with properly protected companies? Why are our customers conned by a good-looking website with a few weasel words?”

WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “National publicity about financial failures and turmoil in holiday resorts has shone a spotlight on consumer protection.

“The problems faced by Lowcostholidays’ customers show how the UK leads the way in Europe on travel consumer protection, with ATOL protecting package holidays and flight-plus.

“However, there are still calls from the trade for the government to get together with the CAA, ABTA and other industry bodies to look again at consumer protection for UK holidaymakers, especially when companies are based offshore or are beyond the scope of regulation, including new ventures such as Airbnb.”

WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn). The annual gathering of 50,000 senior travel industry professionals takes place at ExCeL – London from Monday 7 to Wednesday 9 November 2016.

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World Travel Market London

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.

Almost 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM London.

WTM London is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM London will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts.

WTM London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market events, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa.  www.wtmworld.com

Reed Travel Exhibitions

Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry. Its wide-ranging portfolio of events around the globe covers leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.

RTE, which organises more than 22 events around the world, includes three divisions; World Travel Market, IBTM Events and International Luxury Travel Market.

RTE is a business unit of Reed Exhibitions.

About Reed Exhibitions

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser, with more than 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together more than seven million event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of the RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.

World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.

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