Travel Agents

AFTA protects agents from suppliers gone bust

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has launched a fresh new scheme to help travel agents with the risks associated with chargebacks in the event of supplier failure.

The new scheme, known as the AFTA Insolvency Chargeback Scheme (AICS), is the first ever mutual fund solution to address the issues of consumer chargebacks when suppliers fail and the travel agent has passed the customer’s money onto the supplier.

AICS is available to ATAS accredited travel agencies only and provides industry-owned protection.

“Today we start a new journey with the launch of AICS,” AFTA Chief Executive Jayson Westbury said.

“We have finally found an appropriate vehicle to solve the missing link in the travel agency reform agenda, that is to have a cost effective way to protect travel agents against chargebacks when suppliers collapse.”

“Since I came into this job nearly 10 years ago, this issue has frustrated and concerned travel agents and each time a supplier has collapsed the agent has been left holding the debt and the concern of covering the chargeback from the customer,” he added.

“Now AICS resolves this matter once and for all and it will come at next to no cost to the travel agent.

“I am really proud that AFTA has managed to negotiate a reform of the credit card surcharging arrangements that enables travel agents to resolve this long standing problem that dates back to the collapse of Ansett all those years ago.”

AICS is a Mutual Beneficiary Fund owned by ATAS accredited entities and operated like an insurance product but without the profit requirements and insurance policy complexities.

AICS will provide cover from 1 September. In order to be members of the new Scheme and be protected from these chargebacks, travel agents will need to have merchant facilities provided by an approved AICS merchant service provider.

AICS merchant service providers will be contracted to collect the AICS contributions as a part of the surcharge rate that the merchant can pass onto the consumer. This will only be available to those merchant service providers who elect to become approved by AICS.

While travel agents will need to be ATAS accredited in order to be eligible to take part in this Scheme there will be very little other requirements asked of them.

“As new and innovative merchant services become available to agents I am confident that not only will this Scheme answer the questions on credit card chargeback, they will also provide agents with better access to affordable merchant facilities for their businesses,” Westbury added.

“The Scheme will be up and running in time for the 1 September cut over to the new credit card surcharging arrangements and this presents an exciting opportunity for travel agents big and small to get the protection they need from this problem.”

AFTA also announced the first approved merchant service provider for AICS is TravelPay.

TravelPay will provide its established payment solutions to travel agents who wish to benefit from the additional financial protections provided by AICS, with TravelPay bringing extensive experience working with ATAS travel agencies to the table for this scheme.

Andrea Slark, CEO of Zenith Payments (which owns TravelPay), said, “TravelPay is delighted to be partnering with AFTA in this highly positive initiative for the travel agents who are the life blood of the industry.

“We already provide payment solutions to hundreds of travel agents and our team of BDMs has more than 100 years’ industry experience so we know we have the expertise to provide a seamless solution for AICS and the agents.”

AFTA will bring on other merchant service providers over the coming months to give agents a bigger range of suppliers to choose from. AFTA has also ensured essential resources are dedicated to the implementing of the scheme so it has every chance of success.

AICS is a separate entity from AFTA with an independent Board and Chair. The Board will have oversight and prudential responsibilities for AICS.

“Amanda Rixon will be joining AFTA in the new position of Industry Partnership Executive. Amanda joins AFTA after five years of service with CLIA,” Westbury explained.

“Amanda will be the primary contact for members looking to take part in AICS while Dean Long, National Manager Strategy and Policy will hold the key management responsibility within AFTA for the new Scheme.”

AFTA members will be receiving an information pack about the Scheme in the coming month and it is expected that the transition to AICS and the merchant service providers involved will be as simple and seamless as possible.

The AICS Scheme will be operated under contract by Gow-Gates. AICS will be owned by ATAS members.

ATAS accredited travel agencies are invited to register their interest in the Scheme at http://www.afta.com.au/AICS with more details and applications becoming available in the coming month.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with TripADeal’s Matt Wolfenden

Travel Weekly’s editor recently enjoyed a cycle and a chat with TripADeal’s chief operating officer … until the back tyre on his bike went flat.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Flight Centre showcases agents’ expertise (and unveils new captains) in first-ever global brand campaign

A new captain and co-captains, a fresh tagline, a new microsite and a TikTok account – Skroo and his team sure didn’t muck around with Flight Centre’s first global campaign.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Experience Co expands portfolio with two big acquisitions

After getting its house in order and navigating its way through COVID, the ASX-listed company has made a couple of very big plays.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Royal Caribbean names new sales boss for Australia and NZ

After pulling a Michael Jordan and coming out of retirement, the much-loved and well-respected Peter McCormack is once again hanging up his boots at Royal Caribbean.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Air Canada introduces new refund policy for COVID-affected flights

And, in good news for agents, you can hold on to your loonies, with the Canadian carrier confirming it won’t recall any sales commissions on refunded tickets that it processes.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

AAT Kings to relaunch #EmptyEsky series with new trips

Travel Weekly’s esky is usually full of beers. However, we’d happily drink them all to be ready for these new trips.

Share

CommentComments

Events

“So disappointing”: Bali-themed festival forced to apologise, issue refunds and offer free entry

Organisers of a festival aiming to quench the thirst of Aussies who would rather be in Bali right now appear to have missed the mark by quite a bit.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

ScoMo “in no hurry” to reopen Australia’s international borders

It appears the likelihood of more travel bubbles being announced soon is about the same as ScoMo’s beloved Sharkies winning the NRL Premiership this year … not good.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

YIPPEE! Two-way trans-Tasman bubble finally kicks off

Today is the day, folks! As of midnight last night, the two-way trans-Tasman bubble is FINALLY open! Get the lowdown on NZ flights and tour discounts right here.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

“Do not trust the GPS”: Google Maps places rural town 85km north of its actual location

According to the mayors of a handful of rural Aussie towns, this isn’t the first time the popular travel app has caused problems for them.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

“We call it the triple win”: Global Work & Travel launches new affiliate program

Have you been searching for ways to earn some much-needed moolah ever since JobKeeper ended? Here’s one that doesn’t involve busking on the street or spinning signs.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

CLIA to welcome 18 new ships with virtual showcase

The association is bringing you all the latest vessel news from the maritime world with this exclusive showcase.

Share

CommentComments