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Advantage 2008: Call for trade bodies to educate consumers over financial protection

A call to action has gone out to the industry’s regulatory bodies and the trade to work together to instil more confidence in the holiday-buying public.


Tour operators made a plea for more trade co-operation to raise awareness of financial protection during the Partners for Life debate at the Advantage conference.


The moves comes as operators and agents report a surge in sales of fully protected package holidays through the trade following the failure of the XL Leisure Group.


Thomas Cook director of commercial relations  Marc Bennett said efforts by regulatory bodies to put out a consumer confidence message and increase understanding of ATOL and ABTA could have been better following XL’s collapse.


He said: “If ever there was a time for regulatory bodies to provide a message to customers it is now. I think they [regulatory bodies] could have been more visible than they have been with the failures that have happened.”


He added: “We have to provide a united front.”


Gold Medal managing director Terry Fisher said working with trusted partners would become even more important to show a professional front.


He added: “We have all been guilty of booking with an airline or operator because they are cheaper. Nine months ago we decided not to support XL; we are very conscious of the partners we work with. It will not be possible if we go outside of that to save a few pounds.”


Hoseasons chief executive Richard Carrick said the next three months would be critical. He added: “Consumer confidence is so fragile. The message needs to go out that these tour operators can be trusted and consumers’ money is safe.”


Advantage is already running a Peace of Mind consumer campaign, which will be stepped up as part of its turn of year campaign to continue to press home the benefits of booking with a travel agent.


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