Virgin Holidays has changed its stance on deferred deposits in the face of pressure from the trade.
The tour operator, which is poised to become direct-sell only, has a policy whereby when a travel agent’s customer is forced to cancel a holiday, they are able to retain their deposit for another holiday, so long as they rebook within a year.
However, agents took to social media in their droves on Monday to express their disgust after Virgin Holidays sent out an email explaining that such clients would have to rebook before November 19, or lose their deposit.
One agent wrote on the Travel Gossip Facebook group that her customer had to “cancel and hold” due to pregnancy so was not looking to travel until 2017, for which bookings are not yet available.
The Travel Network Group (TTNG), the parent company of World Choice and the Travel Trust Association, discussed the issue with Virgin Holidays on Tuesday morning and it has since been announced that the operator will offer a refund for customers “who are not in a position to re-book by the November 19”.
While TTNG was able to negotiate a refund for its own members, Virgin Holidays went on to apply the same policy to all customers.
Gary Lewis, TTNG’s group managing director, said: “We were able to negotiate a refund on behalf of our member for a customer that wasn’t able to book before November 19, and Virgin then proceeded to take the wise decision of considering this for all of our members.
“In view of Virgin’s recent decision to sell directly to consumers we’re delighted that they have re-evaluated their decision in this instance and have considered the impact on our independent travel agents.”
The Virgin Holidays spokesman said that after “further investigation” it discovered that it could offer a refund “through a manual work around”.
“We will always endeavour to do what is right for our customers, and are pleased that we could come to a solution,” she said.
After hearing the news, agents pointed out on Travel Gossip that while customers are happy with the solution, travel agents will lose bookings and commission.
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