Tour operators must offer a level playing field for travel agents by offering the same refund rights and reducing balance due dates for trade bookings, says the president of the SPAA.
Joanne Dooey, who owns three-branch Scottish agency Love To Travel, has called for the industry to work together to get through the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
But she said members of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) had reported tour operators giving cash refunds to direct customers while only offering rebook vouchers to travel agents.
She said: “All tour operators need to agree to operate on a level playing field for all bookings.”
Dooey also urged all operators to move balance due dates to 28 days prior to departure, to help give agents more breathing space to rebook clients with bookings this summer. She said the relaxed payment terms should be enforced for three months.
On the ongoing issue of refunds, Dooey reiterated calls for clarity from the government on whether refund credit notes will be financially protected.
She also demanded airlines to minimise risk to agency partners in both the leisure and business travel sectors by agreeing processes to expediate refunds to the trade and reduce the chance of them being hit by credit card chargebacks from customers.
Dooey said: “The SPAA is confident we can all come out of this unprecedented and unique COVID-19 crisis stronger together, but many of us will not make it unless we all work together to offer consistency, and a united front, to our mutual customers.”