There’s nothing like a crisis to make the travel industry work together.
Following XL Leisure Group’s collapse last week, the whole industry rallied to ensure travellers were not stranded or did not lose their holidays.
After hours of calls to operators, airlines and bed banks, the assistance meant agents could re-book clients and the Civil Aviation Authority began repatriating customers stuck overseas. What a sorry sight to see grounded XL jets as the CAA struggled to find aircraft to bring holidaymakers home.
One of the biggest challenges for agents was re-booking holidays priced anywhere close to what customers originally paid for their XL holiday or flight.
Is it me or have prices suddenly fluctuated way in excess of what they were little under a week ago? I’m being slightly facetious, but yield management systems are being tested to the extreme.
All this has meant that, while many agents have re-booked holidays for customers, many face cancelling hundreds of bookings and losing thousands of pounds in commission.
It doesn’t stop there either; the paperwork is a minefield. Unless you can provide the alternative operator and/or CAA with the correct documentation and ATOL receipts, then refunds will not be forthcoming.
With the third largest operator in the UK now gone, Seguro, Zoom Airlines and K&S Travel all behind us and Alitalia facing uncertainty, what changes will we see?
Here’s hoping they will be positive and that prices don’t soar for an already ‘credit crunched’ public. Retailers and operators will make better margins but we don’t want consumers running away altogether, afraid every travel company and airline is unstable.
To avoid this, the industry must issue the right messages. Holidaymakers must be careful: booking online might be cheap, but it doesn’t offer guarantees should anything go wrong.
Let’s hope the government will now listen to the CAA, whose coffers are running dry. If we are to face more failures, politicians must act to protect the public.
There are also questions we need to ask ourselves, particularly relating to the dynamic packaging phenomenon.
But it’s not for anyone to take the moral high ground at a time of 1,700 job losses. I, for one, will miss working with the great people at XL.
More on the collapse of XL
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