AGENTS are being asked to smoke out potential
troublemakers who cause mayhem over Christmas and new year at
holiday camps across the UK.

Under a policy introduced for the festive season, Butlins has
enlisted the help of the trade by asking retailers to double check
the validity of clients’ addresses.

Unless the customer’s name appears on an electoral
register, which will have to be checked either by the agent or
Butlins’ call centre staff, the agent will have to request a
utility bill from customers as proof of address.

If the customer cannot provide one, they will be barred from
holidaying at Butlins over Christmas and new year.

Bourne Leisure head of sales Colin Wilson said the stringent
policy follows disruption at the parks at Christmas in recent years
caused by people who abuse the booking process.

“We’ve had experience of people making bookings through
agents and turning up in resort with more people than on the
original booking,” he said.

“Unfortunately these people also conduct themselves in a manner
we do not want at Butlins. Christmas and new year is a time when
many families choose to stay at Butlins and we want their stay to
be enjoyable and relaxing.”

Wilson said the anti-social behaviour was “worse” than people
just being drunk, but declined to comment further, although it is
understood complaints have ranged from loud and aggressive
behaviour to drunken brawls.

By checking names and addresses, Wilson said it would be
possible to verify who were “bona fide” customers.

Rival Pontin’s is looking at getting agents involved in a
similar vetting scheme next Christmas.

Head of sales and marketing Pali Badwal said the company
experienced “disruptive” behaviour from some groups last year and,
as a result, group bookings for this Christmas were not taken
through agents.

He said: “We have experienced large groups who do nothing but
drink and who spoil it for the majority of people.

“We are looking at new procedures for 2005, including getting
agents to ask for a utility bill.

“If customers have been disruptive, a vetting process would help
us identify them.”

Both Pontin’s and Butlins denied suggestions from agents
that the move is a ploy to get clients’ names and addresses
and go direct.