Dnata Travel UK says it will “change the way it works” following the Covid crisis and revealed it would offer a “suite of choices” in the way it takes payments.
Although confirming he would not “insist” on direct payments from customers, chief executive John Bevan did argue that some might actually prefer it if it did.
Speaking at Abta’s virtual Travel Convention, he said: “We know for a fact that some homeworkers would rather do that because they already run a separate account for their customers because they don’t want to get muddled up.
“So if the tour operator takes the money, where the contract’s with us, then we can just return the commission to the agent.”
Asked if dnata would continue to work with agents that don’t have separate or trust accounts set up, he added: “We have lots of different ways in which we credit check agents we work with. So at the moment, we’re still maintaining those checks and we only work with businesses where we know we’re insured for the volumes and the pipeline monies.”
But Bevan warned: “A lot of these things are going to be up for debate.
“We need the right arrangement for both sides. It’s not about us forcing the other to do something as it’s still a commercial arrangement, but we need to do the right thing for the customer at the end of the day.
“We all need to sell more holidays, so we need to make customers feel confident that their money is safe, that the company is going to be around whatever happens, and that we can turn that money [refund] around much quicker.”
Bevan went on to say that “the data piece” he had promised to implement following the collapse of Thomas Cook, whereby dnata Travel would make it compulsory for agents to pass on clients’ contact information, “was not quite in place”.
But he said: “It’s still in our plans and it will get rolled out.”
He said the pandemic and total shutdown of borders had made such change even more important.
“In this case [with Covid-19], it was difficult,” he said. “We couldn’t reach customers; we couldn’t help customers – and especially with those agents who furloughed everyone, we were stuck in the middle because we just couldn’t get hold of anyone to help.”