While the cancellation of holiday travel and group sport tours is not a new theme to the industry (most recently the Thomas Cooke collapse) it most certainly can be a frustrating moment for anyone who has saved towards the trip of a lifetime.
Together with My Travel Guy – our official partner in world travel – the team at Incoming SA are committed to ensuring your travel arrangements are 100% inline with the international industry standards.Justin Asher, Director of Incoming South Africa (Pty) Ltd
South African investigative journalists from Carte Blanche recently unraveled a story featuring a sports travel business who had cancelled the trips of a number of groups just short of their departure.
This type of situation puts the entire industry at risk of receiving future business so it’s important prospective travellers know what steps to take when booking their future group travel experiences.
1: AIRLINE CONFIRMATION
While even the most famous airlines go bankrupt (from time to time), insisting on an airline confirmation would be the first [and most sensible] step in ensuring your group’s deposit has been paid and seats on the plane secured. Agents may often hold onto more than the requried deposit (possibly to cover other booking costs) so it’s important to ensure your agent has a ticket and/or confirmation number from the airline itself.
2: ASK FOR REFERENCES
Your agent might be new to the group-travel industry and that’s ok; but it’s important they have some type of reference for you to contact should you wish to do your homework and ensure you’re in safe hands – much like employing a new candidate in an important role within your business. Most agents or agencies will make this information available to you (if they don’t, ask why!) and it’s up to you to ensure you’re happy with what you’ve been told.
3: MEET THE TEAM BEHIND YOUR LOGISTICS
With technology like E-Mail, WhatsApp and other forms of text-only communication, it’s very easy for Agents to hide behind their handheld device. Make sure you take every necessary measure to put a face behind the business. Meeting in public places is important – understanding and getting to know the team behind your travel plans not only gives you added peace of mind but also allows you to suss-out the Agent and ensure you’re dealing with someone to whom you’re comfortable handing over your group’s financial commitments.
4: A SIGNED AND LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN YOU AND THE AGENCY
Outlining the expectations and deliverables of both parties in a written, signed docment, is just as important as receiving your flight information – and something you should ensure takes place long before you pay over a cent to your agent or agency. A contractual agreement might not be worth much if the Agency you’re dealing with goes insolvent but if your contract covers the basics you’re at least in with a fighting chance of recouping some (if not all) of your funds through legal routes. Also, certain travel insurance benefits cover airline and/or supplier insolvency so be sure to check your package benefits closely.
5: RESEARCH ONLINE REPUTATIONS
While it is rather easy to make a website these days, and register a business, it’s not so easy to make up a bunch of fake reviews or hide poor ones. Researching the suppliers your Agent is working with, or the agent itself, is incredibly important in building the trust between you and your logistics management team. Make sure you’ve searched the internet for any negative reviews of the agency / person(s) involved in booking your travel arrangements and be sure to look out for any red flags you might encounter.