Booking without ATOL is like having unprotected sex on holiday!
Our World | On 20, Aug 2010
Tour operator collapses of 2010
It’s disquietening to hear that the list of folded travel companies stands at 13 for 2010, and we’re only just past the half way mark. I saw on the news that large numbers of holidaymakers are being presented with bills for the hotel rooms they have already paid for. This is primarily because they booked via an agent and were not protected by ATOL as they unwittingly bought separate hotel and travel elements from different companies.
Thousands more people have had their holiday cancelled with no refund, and I saw a report saying that 60,000 travellers who will eventually get their money back, are now faced with trying to rebook at short notice at higher prices. This is a great shame for the travellers, and of course highlights that you have to check everything as not everything is what is seems.
Could this happen in the events industry? Well the simple answer is yes, it happens every day!
How secure is your event agency? Do they have an ATOL license and what protection do you have if they or one of their suppliers goes down having already collected your money?
Whilst procurement departments have been a lot stronger in recent years I am still shocked that some of these key issues do not appear to rank particularly highly on RFP’s and I do know that there are companies in the UK buying overseas events from event and production companies who are not ATOL bonded. This reminded me of one expert on the TV who said that if you buy your holiday from someone who isn’t ATOL protected, it was like having unprotected sex on holiday. I fully agree.
In the light of the recent failures of tour operators, airlines, production companies and event agencies, I have put together a list of 5 key tips for event buyers:
1. Is the company fully ATOL bonded? Does it say they are ATOL bonded on their website and paperwork? If it doesn’t and they go down you have no protection.
2. Look at their latest filed company accounts. Are they solvent? Did they make a profit in 2009? If it looks bad, why are you giving them your company’s money? Would you give them your own as easily?
3. What is their trading history? How long has the agency been in business and do the directors have a history of previous failures?
4. Do they have an IATA license? This means that they are the actual ticketing agency and that airlines are willing to deal with them direct.
5. What is your agency’s policy on dealing with the collapse of an airline? ATOL doesn’t pay if an international carrier goes bust so who does?
This is not a comprehensive list, but if you don’t know the answers to these, you might as well head off on a stag weekend to Magaluf and hope for the best.