The head of Advantage Travel Partnership is looking to set-up an advisory group to decide how third party suppliers can contact customers directly in an emergency.
Managing director Julia Lo Bue-Said she wants to work with tour operators and agent members to find a mutually beneficial system where customers can be easily and quickly contacted if a large company fails or if there is a catastrophe such as a terror attack or severe weather event.
The move is in response to calls from Travel 2 and Gold Medal boss John Bevan for third party operators to have access to customer data when there are “catastrophes”.
He told delegates at this year’s Abta Travel Convention it took over a week for the trade-only operators to get the details of tens of thousands of customers who had booked through Thomas Cook.
Bevan said the only piece of information they receive is a name with no contact details “because in the past agents were fearful of operators nicking the customer and basically that has to change”. He warned he would look to change agency agreements as a result in future.
Lo Bue-Said said: “I’m keen to see how we can help the process because have I have complete sympathy from the tour operators’ point of view.
“So I want to set-up an advisory group that can work with tour operators and our members to work through this issue and the sensitivities that come with it so everyone can be satisfied.
“We will work in collaboration for the benefit of the consumer.”
Lo Bue-Said said she had spoken to Bevan who is “very supportive” of the plan.
Der Touristik chief executive Derek Jones has also voiced his support for the initiative.
— Derek Jones (@Degsy_DJ) October 17, 2019
Lo Bu-Said said: “The next step is to understand the appetite from other suppliers.”
She said rules around GDPR would have to be a consideration.
“Clearly there has to be rules and criteria and that’s something we need to work through – is this (done) through agency agreements, for example?”
Lo Bue-Said said she hoped to have the group in place by the end of the year.
Third party suppliers keen to get involved should email Lo Bue-Said direct JuliaL@advantagetravelpartnership.com