Further talks are likely to follow this week’s ABTA vote on liability as bed banks continue to criticise the association’s plans.

Several bed banks have met ABTA to discuss the proposal, which goes to the vote at a general meeting today. It makes accommodation pro-viders liable if an agency fails. This does not apply to those supplying accommodation to agents acting as principals.

ABTA chairman John McEwan said the meetings had been constructive, but admitted talks with bed banks would continue.

“Questions emerged from the meeting regarding the status of some bed banks. If they act as a wholesaler by acting on behalf of the hotel, and provide product to the agent, which is the packager of that arrangement, then responsibility lies with the agent acting as a principal.

“Where bed banks are selling to the customer via an agent, the bed bank should accept responsibility,” he said.

“It will be up to the bed bank to consider its business model. This is why I think there will be further talks.”

Bed bank somewhere2stay.com managing director Stuart Jackson is concerned ABTA agents will continue to use non-ABTA bed banks despite the ruling, if it is passed. “I don’t like the fact that ABTA agents will continue to sell non-ABTA bed banks, knowing that if they go bust, customers’ money is at risk.”

McEwan said consortia were likely to give stronger support to ABTA bed banks if the proposal was passed. “We cannot mandate our members on who to sell, but we can come up with preferred supplier policies that are weighted towards ABTA bed banks,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jackson added that ABTA’s policy to cap the amount bed banks can claim back in the event of an agency failure “needs reviewing”.

Agents can vote by proxy or at today’s meeting. In total, 75% need to vote in favour for the proposal to be passed.


Possible outcomes

  • Bed banks ask agents to pay customers’ money as soon as they make a booking

  • More agents set up trust funds or work with bed banks to discuss best ways to keep customers’ money secure until they have travelled

  • Consortia alter preferred supplier lists to favour ABTA bed banks

  • ABTA bed banks leave the association

  • Bed banks review their business models