Travel agents report rise in awareness of package protection

Agents report customers are increasingly aware of the added protection offered by package holidays after a fumbled endorsement by Grant Shapps during his green list announcement.

Despite his misuse of the term ‘voucher’, the transport secretary urged holidaymakers to book holidays guaranteeing a refund or refund credit note in the event of travel advice changing.

He noted “a lot of flexibility” from travel companies and airlines on bookings and urged travellers to check T&Cs “very carefully”.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Triangle Travel managing director Rob Kenton said customers who used to book online were now saying ‘I want the protection’.

He said: “Anyone with an Abta or Atol logo is going to benefit – as long as you promote that it’s a package.”

Kenton believes customers “will have confidence” in agents who explain that package bookings permit amendments for destinations that move from green to amber, and either amendments or refunds if a country moves from amber to red.

“Make that clear from the word go,” he suggested. “People are saying that sounds reasonable. As long as we give clarity, they’re happy.”

Alistair Rowland, chief executive of Blue Bay Travel and chairman of Abta, said agents could target clients willing to “gamble” on booking an amber list destination at a reduced price in the hope it would be added to the green list before departure.

“Just make sure consumers are absolutely clear,” he said. “It probably will [change], but if anything happens, they’ll be able to amend, no cost, but not refund [for amber destinations].”

Advantage Travel Partnership leisure director Kelly Cookes said the consortium had pushed the message that a “human travel agent can hold your hand” and it was now seeing younger customers booking through its members.

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