A leading cruise agency owner has implored cruise lines to protect the commission of Freedom Travel Group agents unable to trade following Thomas Cook’s collapse.
Between 25 and 30 agents have raised fears with The Travel Village Group managing director Phil Nuttall this week, with some picking up the phone in tears.
The Civil Aviation Authority has appointed Hays Travel to fulfil 9,000 bookings made by Freedom Travel Group members, but talks continue over commission payments.
The deal does not cover the 140 homeworkers who are part of Freedom Personal Travel Advisors.
Nuttall, who is chair of the Clia travel agent advisory board, wants cruise lines to protect commission on forward bookings for all affected agents who find new employment.
“The concern is those agents rely on those bookings to pay their mortgage,” he said. “We need to find a mechanism to reassign those forward bookings back to the agents when they find new jobs.
“I have got people crying down the phone, thinking how are they going to survive. They are worried to death. We are a talking thousands of pounds in commission – it is a lot of money.”
Nuttall praised cruise lines for quickly taking over customer bookings affected by Thomas Cook’s failure which has sent shock waves through the industry. However, he now wants lines to go further.
“I commend cruise lines for coming out, putting customers’ minds at ease and reassuring them that their bookings are safe,” he said. “Now we have done that the second thing must be, how do we support those agents?
“We need to do this now as soon as possible. We cannot have [agents] crying down the phone.”
P&O Cruises said bookings could be transferred back to Freedom Travel Group members – if the customer involved contacted them directly with their new Abta number.
A P&O Cruises spokesperson said: “We have been engaging with Abta to understand the most appropriate arrangements for retail bookings made by Freedom Travel Group members.
“To provide reassurance to our guests we will be assuming responsibility for managing these future bookings.
“However, should these guests wish to transfer the booking back to their original agent, they may do so once they write to us and once the agent has a new Abta number under which to trade and depending on balance due date.”
The line also added: “We would love to be able to support former Thomas Cook employees and we would welcome applications from them on our careers page.”
Clia has waived registrations fees for former Thomas Cook agents wishing to attend any of its four remaining 2019 events where tickets are still available.
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