Advantages of Booking With An ABTA Member
In the news we hear of travel companies collapsing, leaving their customers stranded and needing to make their own way home. This ruins people’s holidays and causes untold stress as everyone scrambles to get their family back to the UK. In occasions such as this, ABTA can step in to help holidaymakers in their hour of need.
There are many other reasons why booking with an ABTA member is beneficial, including financial protection, peace of mind, expert travel help, support and advice.
What is ABTA?
ABTA (formerly the Association of British Travel Agents) is a travel trade association which was created almost 70 years ago. It has been around since 1950 when 22 holiday companies got together, later merging with the FTO (Federation of Tour Operators) in 2008. Today it has over 4300 members – tour operators – with a combined yearly turnover of £39 billion. It offers guidance to holidaymakers and its members – helping them to maintain high standards of service as well as health and safety.
How do I know if my holiday provider is a member of ABTA?
All ABTA members are allowed to display the ABTA logo, both on their website, as well as on written documentation. They are also given a number which you should cross-check on the ABTA website, as it is not uncommon for unscrupulous operators to claim to be a member, despite not being so. ABTA also names and shames non-member companies caught using the ABTA logo, or fraudulently claiming to be a member, when they are not allowed to.
How does ABTA help me?
If you are yet to travel, ABTA can offer you valuable advice and assistance. It can also give you up-to-date advice from the foreign office in regard to the country you wish to visit. This can be especially helpful in regards to heavy storms or political upheaval. It has a code of conduct which its members must abide by. They can advise you as to whether your tour operator is operating in line with its code. Any breaches of the code can result in financial penalties to the company, and will result in them getting named and shamed on their website!
What is the code?
As part of ABTA, members must:
- Provide accurate information – enough so that customers make informed choices.
- Give advice or assistance on passport, visa and health requirements.
- Offer suitable alternatives, if any building works were to seriously impair you during your holiday.
- Refund the cost of your holiday, if your flight was to be delayed significantly enough to make you not want to go.
- Respond to any complaint you make, within 28 days.
- Resolve your complaint, quickly and amicably. Where this isn’t possible, it must guarantee arbitration for a settlement to be reached.
If your holiday company is an ABTA member and breaches this code, provide evidence of this to ABTA – who will subsequently investigate. You get 18 months from the date you return from your trip to complain, and all complaints must be in English. This can lead to reprimands and/or fines. Please note, ABTA do not award travellers with compensation, this must come from the operator itself. ABTA can only crack the whip to keep its members – travel agents – in line.
What if my complaint isn’t fairly dealt with by the company?
As per the above code, ABTA members are bound to follow strict guidelines when dealing with a customer’s complaint, but sometimes travel agents and their customers can’t agree on a solution. At this point, ABTA can be used to bring both parties together to arrive at a settlement which both customer and operator agree on. Failing this, ABTA is an approved member of Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s (CTSI) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which aims to make a fair and just award – without having to go through courts.
What does ABTA Protected mean?
Being ABTA Protected means that in the event of your travel company going out of business, you are entitled to a refund. When abroad, your journey back to the UK by rail, sea or road is covered. For packages including flights, refer to ATOL which is covered by the Civil Aviation Authority. Travelling with an ABTA member could also entitle you to more legal protection if something happens. In any case, ABTA monitors the financial position of its members on a regular basis to ensure it is aware of any potential problems.
In the holiday rental industry, very occasionally a villa may be sold by the owner. If this happens to your villa booked through Debbie’s Villas, we will inform you and locate an alternative villa. We have a large portfolio of properties and many contacts in Orlando, which means we will be able to quickly find you an alternative of the same standard (of your choice). This is all a part of our ABTA protection policy.
So if my money is protected by ABTA, I don’t need insurance?
Wrong. Travel insurance offers protection for loss or theft of your personal belongings, as well as cancellations or medical expenses.
Doing a little bit of research can guarantee you avoid most dodgy holiday dealers (for advice on how to spot holiday-home scams, take a read of our latest blog). So when booking your Orlando holiday home with us at Debbie’s Villas, you can know you are protected in any event. We have knowledgeable staff who will always keep you up-to-date with any information you need to have the best holiday possible! If anything were to go wrong, we are ABTA Protected (you can check too, our number is Y5238!) so your money, and more importantly your family, are safe.