Abta’s head of financial protection has warned specialist tour operators and agencies to ensure their computer systems can issue Atol documentation as soon as they take a holding deposit after an influx of queries on the issue.
John de Vial said it was one of the biggest issues facing specialist travel companies under the Flight-Plus Atol reform.
Speaking at the joint Aito operators’ and agents’ conference in Madeira at the weekend, de Vial said specialist companies often do not have room allocations or guaranteed flight seats and have to take a holding deposit while requesting rooms or seats, before a client has booked a full itinerary.
Under the new Atol regulations, which came into force at the end April, agents and operators will have to issue an Atol Certificate to the customer as soon as any payment is paid.
The Certificates will be introduced from October, but in the meantime businesses must issue a document explaining the Atol status of the booking.
De Vial said many systems will only be set up to issue the Certificate once the booking is confirmed, rather than earlier in the sales process.
“One of the biggest issues we are dealing with at the moment with specialist companies is holding deposits. Can your system issue that certificate when you don’t know if you can confirm the booking? We are getting a lot of calls on that,” said de Vial.
Haslemere Travel confirmed it is in the process of applying for the new Flight-Plus licence. It is understood to be only the second agency within the Aito Specialist Travel Agents group to do so.
Managing director Gemma Antrobus said the agency’s application had been approved by Abta and would now be considered by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The agency decided to apply for the licence to allow it safely sell ancillaries with its packages rather than in order to switch to selling dynamic packages but will make a firm decision on whether to continue with its application – which will require an increase in its bond – in the next few weeks.
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