Coronavirus: Some operators delay balance due dates amid pandemic

By Juliet Dennis and Harry Kemble

Some operators have delayed balance due dates to give agents more chance to retain bookings by allowing customers extra time to confirm their travel plans.

Agents had piled pressure on operators to delay balance payments to “the absolute minimum”. Balances are typically due at least 10 weeks ahead of travel.

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Coach specialist Shearings Holidays has reduced the balance due date to three weeks prior to departure for customers travelling between May 1 and June 30.

Cosmos said it was planning to introduce a 30‑day balance due date “as soon as possible”.
A spokesperson for Gold Medal and Travel 2 said the operators were looking at “a range of options” to support agents and customers.

Agents said customers were increasingly opting to lose their deposits rather than pay the balance in return for vouchers or credit notes for holidays cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Miles Morgan, owner of Miles Morgan Travel, said: “Changing the balance due date offers the clients more thinking time rather than them having to pay it now and finding at a later date they can only get their money back in vouchers.”

Amanda Matthews, founder and managing director of Designer Travel, called on more tour operators to have a “flexible approach”.

“We are having so many clients talk about not paying their balance for peak dates in July and August and just losing their deposits instead,” she wrote on Facebook.

Lee Hunt, owner of Suffolk-based Deben Travel, added: “If operators could be flexible with due dates and take it down to the absolute minimum, that would save bookings.”

Carol Kirkham, of Kirkham Travel, and Travel the World2’s Denise Hodgson both said clients were choosing not to pay the full balance and lose their deposit.

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