Less than a week after AFTA stripped two companies – including one wholesaler – of their AFTA accreditation, Mobile Travel Agents – MTA has shared their thoughts on the topic of consumer protection – namely financial protection.
Both italktravel Tuggerah and Inca Tours were shut down by liquidators, leaving a lot of people in the lurch.
While italktravel BookSafe was prepared to provide protection for consumer bookings made in the italktravel Tuggerah store, Inca Tours’ booking circumstances were unknown.
AFTA urged any travel agents with bookings through Inca Tours to contact AFTA and make a claim with its Insolvency Chargeback Scheme.
Suffice to say, any time a wholesaler goes bust, it’s not a pretty picture for travel agents or their clients.
Speaking to Travel Weekly exclusively, MTA Managing Director, Roy Merricks, said financial concerns should be top of the priority list.
“Good travel advisors should consider the financial security of their client’s funds,” Merricks told TW.
“It’s only right they should ask the agency they work with, if client’s funds are guaranteed in the instance of downline insolvency.
“In MTA’s case, in the event of any approved travel intermediary or end supplier becoming insolvent and being unable to deliver the product or service, then clients funds are protected as part of the company’s Zero Flight Risk (ZFR) solution which was in fact the first one off the rank after the TCF was dismantled in 2014.”
MTA’s Zero Flight Risk is an initiative whereby any client purchasing travel products and services through MTA has their funds guaranteed in the event of any approved MTA travel intermediary or end supplier becoming insolvent and being unable to deliver the product or service.
This, according to MTA, covers everything from an airline ticket, wholesale package, or coach company tour, to a cruise, a hotel bed, a train ticket or even a hire car.
“While travel insurance covers for a lost suitcase, a damaged camera or overseas medical assistance, supplier insolvency protection is a whole different ball game,” MTA said.
“There are of course optional travel insurance products that consumers may buy through their travel advisor or directly online.
“But many of these consumer travel insurance policies either do not offer supplier insolvency protection and if they do, it is limited to a very small number of suppliers and always at additional cost.
“You might think travel supplier insolvency doesn’t often happen. Well think again.
“Inca Tours recent insolvency is an example. Which agencies provide a guarantee that client’s funds are protected in the case of such events? MTA does.
“The amount of money involved runs, literally, into millions of lost dollars – let alone the emotional consequences affected customers have endured.
“‘Zero Flight Risk’ is yet another example of the many accruable benefits MTA Members are able to provide their clients.”