We take a look through the Travel Weekly archives in our 50th year to find out what was making the headlines 10, 25 and 45 years ago…
• Morale at the multiples appeared to hit an all-time low with Thomas Cook staff saying unfair targets, unpaid overtime and low pay were making them feel “fed up and exploited” in a survey of 300 of Cook agents by travel trade union the TSSA.
• Meanwhile, agents at Harvey World Travel gave a sigh of relief to find their jobs were safe after the retailer was bought by Vacation Travel owner Stuart Arnott.
• In more positive news, Aspen Travel in Manchester became the first travel agency ever to offer £139,000 space trips through Virgin Galactic – initially to 250 would-be astronauts.
• In cruise news, a disgruntled agent hit out at Complete Cruise Solution for failing to protect small agencies from being undercut by their larger competitors. Cruising Coast2Coast director Tony Robinson said clients were willing to cancel their bookings if they found a cheaper deal elsewhere – even if it meant losing hundreds of pounds in deposit money.
• Abta unveiled plans for its “most draconian measures yet” to drive insolvent agents out of the association. Head of financial services Mike Monk was set to present new financial criteria to remove “weak” members. “We are still losing money to agents going bust,” he said.
• Co-op Travelcare revealed plans to open 25 more outlets in Co-op supermarkets to add to its existing network of 193, while Inspirations planned to buy another 22 agencies within the next few months to boost its chain of 25 A T Mays shops.
• Meanwhile, Travel Weekly’s Mystery Client gave a damning assessment of agents in Norwich. “There was no demonstration of selling skills or product knowledge and the person who proved most genuinely helpful was a customer,” said our shopper.
• On the Viewpoint page, Sunvil Holidays managing director Noel Josephides asked whether BA’s alleged ‘dirty tricks’ – the way in which it took bookings from rivals – weren’t just normal trade dealings.
• Abta revealed it was investigating reports that agents were charging a flat fee for their service in some parts of the country, particularly the northeast. The news followed a recent advertising campaign by British Airways which stated an Abta agent’s role was to “make your bookings at no extra cost”.
• Meanwhile, the number of Atol-holders looked likely to fall significantly with the CAA reporting that only 421 applications had been received for licence renewals, compared with 460 issued the previous year.
• On the tour operators/agents page, under the headline “Redhead The Healer”, the newly elected chairman of Abta’s retail agents council, Ted Redhead, said his first priority was to improve relations between agents and operators which he described as “strained”. He said: “We must get the trade back on an even keel and work together towards a common aim – profit.” Also on his to-do list was encouraging more of the “silent majority” to attend local Abta meetings.
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