Like many others out there we’ve been dealing with the fallout of the Goldtrail Holidays collapse for the last few weeks – and it’s still going on.
Nobody likes dealing with irate holidaymakers, all devastated that their holiday plans have been thrown out of the window at the 11th hour. But travel agents across the country have been picking up the pieces from this nightmare situation and deserve special credit.
On July 16 our own retail team were enjoying a Chinese meal on a night out. In the middle of dinner a call came through to our retail manager to say that Goldtrail had gone under.
The team all literally downed their chopsticks and went straight back into the office. With 200 bookings and 1,000 passengers, they were working until two and three o’clock in the morning and carried on through the weekend to try to sort out people’s holidays.
When there’s a major incident in travel, so much work goes on behind the scenes. It’s not always reported how those at the sharp end deal with big news stories.
It’s a great credit to many in our industry that people are prepared to go beyond the call of duty and work around the clock. Sadly, in the past couple of years our disaster recovery systems have been tested more severely than anyone could have anticipated, with the XL Leisure Group collapse and the ash cloud, to name but two incidents.
By now we are dab hands at dealing with drama. Collectively, we’ve done a sterling job and the one ray of light is that we’ve had lovely comments from customers.
While all this good work should be applauded, none of it makes up for the damage that the sort of confusion that accompanied Goldtrail’s collapse does, not only to our industry’s reputation, but also to our own brands.
Building a trusted brand takes a lot of investment. We all work hard to attract customers to our business through marketing and customer relations. We stick Atol logos all over our website and communications to customers to reassure them that their holiday booking is safe with us.
But then when you have a situation where something goes wrong and people don’t know if their holiday is bonded or not, well, all the work we’ve done to create trust goes out of the window.
Time to ignore the rules?
We have always done the right thing and made it a requirement for anyone who advertises dynamic packaging with us that they need to be Atol bonded. But I’m beginning to think it’s not worth the cost of playing by the rules, and that is something I’ll make clear to the CAA when I meet them this week.
If so many in the industry are confused, what do holidaymakers make of it all? Little wonder that, like many others, I have serious concerns about the CAA’s role as the industry regulator.
Victoria Sanders is managing director of Teletext Holidays.