As yet another major player goes into liquidation, the HotelConnect collapse has to be a big wake-up call for the powers that be in our industry.
With things changing so quickly at the moment, it seems the worst is still not over for some.
The publication of the proposed Flight-Plus Atol terms and conditions seems positive but still with loopholes, which is very surprising considering that was one of the main objectives with this new way forward.
The aim was no loopholes and a level playing field for all those selling holidays with more than one component.
It seems to me there are now lots of online travel agencies (OTAs), airlines and bed banks all doing the same thing.
The OTAs are directly contracting to keep up with the prices and ownership of their product, the bed banks are now also selling as OTAs to the public via the web, all the key airlines sell direct to the public not only for flights, but for accommodation, ancillaries and packages as well.
Doesn’t this sound very much like we as an industry have evolved into the same place? So why is there still a chance that not all of the above will be required to have a Flight-Plus Atol and live by the same fair rule?
It is beyond me, quite frankly. Protection is the key. Fairness across the board was promised and the consumer looked after as they should be. Are we going to get this? I jolly well hope so.
I, as well as many people in the industry, just want to get on with running our business and working in a happy, protected and level environment again. This hasn’t happened for many years, but it has to now or we will go backwards not forwards. If it is a level playing field then let the best man win. If it’s not, then why not?
The customer knows best
One thing I do know for sure and something that Sir Terry Leahy said on stage at the recent Institute of Travel and Tourism conference in Venice, there is only one person who will tell us what’s wrong with our industry and how to fix it – all for free. The customer.
They will no doubt vote with their wallets in the next 12 months. Let’s just hope that in this difficult environment, the powers that be listen to them.
Regardless of what does actually happen and what is put into place, I hope our industry listens, conforms and gets on with the new way of doing things.
It will suit some, but not others. Whichever side of the fence you are sitting on, I hope we all adapt quickly and as best we can, and get back to selling holidays to our customers. After all, they deserve to be looked after and given the holiday they have booked in the knowledge they are safe with us.
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