Agents have worked around the clock to “pick up the pieces” and rebook thousands of customers who booked direct with Lowcost Holidays.
But the effect on trade bookings appears to have been less than feared, with many agents reselling Lowcostbeds’ accommodation in Atol-protected Flight-Plus arrangements as members of Atol-accredited groups.
Travel Weekly understands some agents also had payment on-departure agreements with Lowcost, and others had reduced their share of business with the firm due to concerns about its lack of an Atol.
Spear Travels was among the agencies to heed the CAA’s warnings in 2013-14 and stop working with Lowcostbeds.
Managing director Peter Cookson said: “We will be picking up the pieces because people [who booked direct] have come to us wanting alternative accommodation.”
Alistair Rowland, group general manager of Midcounties Co-operative, said the firm had “a couple of hundred bookings with Lowcost” that were protected by failure insurance.
Julia Lo-Bue Said, managing director of Advantage Travel Partnership, said the number of her members affected was low and the booking volumes minimal.
“If ever there was a time for agents to demonstrate their value, it is now,” she said. “They can prove the value of an agent can’t be matched.”
Steve Byrne, managing director of Travel Counsellors, said the firm had 1,500 bookings with Lowcost, accounting for 4,000 customers, and all the bookings were protected under its trust.
The firm’s 24/7 duty office and a special team worked until 3am on Saturday to resolve any issues.
Byrne said: “We sorted out 70% of customers within 24 hours and are working through the rest.”
Steve Campion, managing director of Holiday Discount Centre, said there was “no huge financial exposure for agents”. He added: “Agents are well versed in dealing with these situations, particularly after the failure of On Holiday Group in 2014.”
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