Worldchoice offers agents alternative to ABTA

Worldchoice offers agents alternative to ABTA

Worldchoice is offering agents the chance to quit ABTA ahead of the association's subscription renewal in June.

The consortium launched a new category of member this week, extending its ACAS payment system and claiming it can offer a range of services to match ABTA's for £250 less than an ABTA subscription.

The move will be seen as a challenge to ABTA following anger among some agents at a steep rise in subscriptions last year. But Worldchoice managing director Simon Hargreaves insists he is only providing what many members say they want.

He said: "A significant number want an alternative option that allows them to provide financial protection outside the ABTA scheme, and they want the scheme to truly represent the independent agent.

"We believe we can provide protection for less money. But it is not just about cost. People do not feel represented."

Hargreaves does not foresee a large number of Worldchoice's 360 members quitting ABTA. "We do not need 100 to make this viable," he said. "It could be a success with three or four. But we would not be doing it if only 10 or 20 were interested."

He added: "I would love to get around the table with ABTA to discuss this."

The offer is exclusive to Worldchoice members and Hargreaves suggests it will not be easy for rival consortia to replicate. He said: "Everything can be copied, but you need to understand financing and risk and have a failures department in place. It is not simple."

Hargreaves took over as Worldchoice managing director following the consortium's merger with the Travel Trust Association last year.

He said: "The TTA and Worldchoice have all the building blocks in place for this." But he conceded: "There are some key suppliers outside the ACAS system and we would look at extending bonding or insurance to increase the suppliers covered. It could potentially require a larger [Worldchoice] bond, depending on the member interest."

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