Holiday protection just isn’t working

Article by David Brice – Lecturer in Travel and Tourism

This week saw the news that The Lowcost Travel Group has ceased trading. Whilst this does not surprise me, the timing of the failure does. The company owned several brands including Low Cost Beds which was used by the travel trade. This time of year is when most travel companies have most cash flow, so there must have been something wrong for the company to fail. Their CEO, Paul Evans, has blamed the failure on Brexit but there must be more to it than that. My guess is that fierce competition is the main cause as well as the falling value of the British Pound against the Euro.  You would think that with an alleged 110,000 forward bookings a company would be thriving but the company relied heavily on advertising with margins very thin in the travel industry costs are very high too. I have seen many companies cease trading for similar reasons over the last 20 years because they based their success on growth rather than profit.

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The Lowcost Travel Group were based in Palma, Majorca although they also had offices in London, Switzerland and in Poland. The reason that they set up base in Spain was because they wanted to get around the UK ATOL regulations. This is because they were selling flights and separate accommodation without an ATOL that they would need in the UK. The problem is that most of those people who booked did not realise they were booking with a company who offered no financial protection. Those people who have booked with Lowcost Travel will now realise the importance of booking a holiday with financial protection as they are faced with having flights booked but with no hotel. It will mean that they will have to pay again although some may get their money back if they paid on a credit card.

I have been saying for many years that the UK government does not have strong enough laws on holiday protection. Despite an ongoing low key campaign on the benefits of ATOL the message is lost as some companies take advantage of the lack of consumer knowledge on ATOL financial protection and continue to sell flights and accommodation as if it is a package holiday.

Whether this failure will make consumers more aware of booking with an ATOL bonded tour operator remains to be seen as travel is a price driven product. Of course, many people book their own separate flight direct with an airline and book their holiday accommodation on the Internet and this type of arrangement is never covered by ATOL financial protection.

 

Preston Holidays ceases trading

Preston Holidays, the Jersey holidays specialist’s have ceased trading today leaving 4,500 customers with advanced bookings without a holiday. The company also owned Longwood Holidays and Amathus Holidays.

Preston Holidays and it’s other trading names have an ATOL, which means that holidays which include flights are financially protected under the ATOL scheme. Holidays which don’t involve flights but instead include coach or sea travel will need to make a claim with ABTA.

For any customers wanting to re-book their holiday to Jersey please call us on 01924 892249 and we will be happy to re-book you so that you Jersey or Guernsey holiday can be saved.

Excessive credit and debit card charges.

New rules have come into place recently that are supposed to prevent companies charging what the OFT feels are excessive credit and debit card charges.

An investigation by the BBC, however found that many travel companies are still flouting the rules.

It’s been the case in the travel industry for many years that airlines and travel companies advertise lower prices and then make up the difference with high card charges. Hopefully this will now change and there will be more of a level playing field.

Just for the record, here at Global Holidays, we only charge 2% for payments by credit card and 0% for debit cards.

Now that’s a good reason to book with Global Holidays !

Direct flights to Phuket, Thailand

TUI Travel has announced that it is to start direct flights to Phuket in Thailand from November 2013. The tour operator will be using its new 787 Dreamliner. Customers will be able to make bookings from 15 November 2012.

Flights will be direct from Gatwick but it’s not clear whether the flights will be non-stop. Previous Thomson charter flights, that stopped in around 2006, had a re-fuelling stop in Abu Dhabi.

Until this announcement there are no other direct flights from the UK to Phuket. Other airlines operate via Bangkok.

If you want to make a booking for the new service call  FREE on 0800 433 2300.

The Shard visitor experience to be latest London attraction.

The Shard viewing platform is due to open on 1 February 2013 and will become one of London’s “must see” attractions. The Shard is the highest building in the EU and will be twice as high as any other London vantage point. The viewing levels will be between levels 68 and 72 and it is claimed you will be able to see 40 miles on a clear day.

Visitors will travel up to level 33 first where a giant map of London will be seen, before visitors take another lift to level 68. The lifts travel at over 6 metres a second.

400 people at a time will be able to access the viewing areas but the cost will be £29.95 per person with a £6 reduction for children so a family of 2 adults and 2 children taking a trip to the top will be expensive. There are reductions of £5 per person if you book in advance online, but at nearly £90 for a family of 4 it is not going to be a cheap visitor experience.

If you can afford the cost of  the trip to the top of The Shard  then it does promise to be a memorable visitor experience, especially on a clear day.

Take a look at this video about The Shard and what visitors can expect from February 2013.

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXctjoGP58o?rel=0]

New ATOL certificate regulations effective 1 October 2012.

From 1st October 2012, anyone who books an ATOL protected holiday or flight only must be supplied with an ATOL certificate.  The ATOL certificate is a standard document issued by anyone selling an ATOL protected holiday or ATOL protected Flight Only, which makes it clear how the trip is protected and by whom. As all travel businesses will be issuing the same style document, it will become a recognised proof of protection for anyone booking holidays / flight only and aims to give consumers a better understanding about protection.

 Here at Global Holidays we have always sold ATOL protected holidays, and we would like to inform our customers that from 1 October we will be complying with the new regulations and all new customers will either have the tour operators ATOL certificate sent to them, or in the case of a holiday put together by us, an ATOL certificate provided by our ATOL fromThe Global Travel Group. ATOL – Number 3973.

 As always, we will continue to provide competitive prices on all holidays and flights as well as excellent customer service.

Best wishes from the Global Holidays team !

 

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To Helsinki and back

Dubbed the “White City of the North”, Helsinki is small in size but large in spirit.

The capital of Finland sits on its southern tip, a short hop across the waters from Russia’s St Petersburg, and is arguably the number one up-and-coming destination in Northern Europe.

The city’s magic lies in its ability to retain a small-town feel. There are no high-rise buildings and the market square is still surrounded by 19th-century architecture. 

Its green parks and waterways, fresh sea winds with seagulls flying over the busy market square, and many open-air cafes add to the city’s charm.

As for things to do, the ballet, opera, symphony, theatre and visual arts all combine to make it a true capital of culture.

The Ateneum, National Museum, Cable Factory and Amos Anderson museums all display a changing stream of exhibitions. Other highlights include the incredible Rock Church (blasted from rock) and nearby Suomenlinna Island, with its remarkable fortress and a host of museums. 

Meanwhile, nightlife continues to improve, as does the restaurant scene, making the most of the fresh fish and ubiquitous vodka. 

And if you’re planning a trip in the near future, then November would be a great time to sample the city’s reputation for world-class winter sports.

From November 2nd to 4th 2012, Skiexpo, the largest winter sports fair in the Nordic countries, takes place at the Helsinki Fair Centre. Virtually every type of skiing and ice sport is represented over this weekend show.

Machu Picchu is world’s best wonder

For many people a visit to one of the Seven Wonders of the World represents the perfect holiday, but just what are these 7 wonders? Well, the official version may be different to polls that are regularly done on tourists who dream about or have been on this type of holiday.

The lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, found in Peru, has been voted as the number one wonder in the world.

Machu Pichu regularly picks up  50% more votes than other tourist destinations when travel blog readers are asked for their opinions on the best wonders of the world.

The Peruvian city was built between 1460 and 1470 and consists of some 200 temples and public buildings. Despite remaining intact, it was not found by the Spanish, and was only rediscovered in 1911 by Yale professor Hiram Bingham.

In second place in travel polls is  temples of Angkor, in Cambodia, followed by India’s Taj Mahal and the ancient city of Petra.

The only remaining wonder of the ancient world, The Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt, was number eight in the list of 75 top sights.

“To explore any of these seven fully requires a great sense of adventure, but they truly represent the most amazing travel experiences on the planet”.

So, maybe it’s time to brush off the dust from your “Indiana Jones” hat and start planning your next holiday adventure !

Paris ‘most likely to cause rows’ for city break couples

A new poll has found that a third of those questioned admitted Paris would be the city most likely to cause them to argue on a romantic break, due mainly to the miserable nature of the French capital.

Respondents admitted that, while the image of the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees are likely to provoke feelings of romance and love, the “grey” and “hard to navigate” city meant that they would feel must worse than they would elsewhere.

The famously surly attitude of Parisians and restaurant staff also let the capital down.

However, Barcelona was rated as the best city in the poll, followed by the Italian city of Florence.

The poll also found that a quarter of respondents had proposed to their loved one on a romantic break away.

Global Holidays has a huge range of city breaks at low prices.