Exclusive: Customers more likely to book with trade after XL collapse

Nearly 20% of customers are more likely to book with a travel agent following the collapse of XL Leisure Group – because they are confused about financial protection.

Research conducted exclusively for Travel Weekly by market research company TNS suggested only half of customers who have booked a holiday in the last year were confident their trip was protected by ABTA or ATOL, while 10%knew they would not be protected. A total of 32% was not sure if the holiday was protected, while the remainder failed to answer.

The Co-operative Travel managing director Mike Greenacre said he had seen evidence of this change. “People want security after XL’s collapse. A large influx of customers have come back to us saying they will never book on the internet or direct again.”

Freedom Travel Agents’ Consortium head Jane Atkins added: “This is a chance for us to communicate the value of the agent. All of us have to work with ABTA and the Civil Aviation Authority to work towards a level playing field and communicate to the consumer what protection they can get.”

As the economic situation worsens, concerns are growing over future collapses. The majority of the 2,071 people surveyed (60%) said they would be happy to pay £1 into a central fund to cover flight bookings in the case of airlines failing.

TNS head of travel and tourism Tom Costley said:”There is a clear demand to extend coverage to all flights so travellers can make their choice of booking channel and payment method without havingto worry.”

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