Wholesalers

Excite Holidays collapses, leaving many agents and clients stranded

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

Excite Holidays has collapsed after an excruciating week for countless agents and their clients.

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s website, the companies used to operate Excite locally, Global Travel Specialists Pty Limited and Global Travel Holdings Pty Limited, have been placed into administration.

It comes after the wholesaler suspended its agent platform yesterday, posting a notice to advise it was in the “final stages of commercial discussions”, and offering an email address should agents require assistance.

Excite executive director Nicholas Stavropoulos told Travel Weekly on Tuesday that the company was in discussions about a potential business deal in when asked about speculation the company was selling part of its business to a US-based company, believed to be Bonotel Exclusive Travel.

However, Stavropoulos told Travel Weekly this morning that the wholesaler would make an announcement later today, noting “it’s not good news”.

Travel Weekly has been contacted by numerous angry agents who have had clients’ pre-paid bookings cancelled without notice since publishing Stavropoulos’ comments earlier this week.

One agent said they would be out of pocket by $50,000 and several other small agencies indicated they would have to pay similar five-figure sums to assist their clients.

Agents have also claimed the wholesaler has been unresponsive to their emails and phone calls since December despite indicating they would be on call 24/7 throughout the Christmas holiday period.

Excite posted to their Facebook page on 30 December advising agents they were experiencing “system issues which have affected a number of our bookings and calls”.

One agent, Elizabeth Ellis of Cherrybrook Travel, told Travel Weekly she had customers who were stranded in New Zealand, Thailand and Japan after their bookings were cancelled without warning. Ellis said her agency was forced to rebook the accommodation out of their own pocket and estimated it would be out of pocket by around $25,000.

Another agent who wished to remain anonymous told us they were “not in a good way” after working tirelessly to rebook their clients and had to cancel several trips.

Cinzia Burnes, executive director of Viva Holidays, has reached out to agents to advise a special phone line “for agents that are looking to re-book any forward bookings they may have with Excite”.

“We intend to provide any assistance necessary to minimise the financial impact to the agents, but are most importantly focused on ensuring that the clients are not inconvenienced,” the email read.

“The number for the hotline is 1300 552 323 and this will allow agents to check both Tango and ReadyRooms prices with the assistance of one of our dedicated operations staff. The hotline will be fully operational from tomorrow morning.”

ATAS-accredited International Rail has ensured a full complement of staff is available to assist agents and their clients during this challenging period with issues arising from Excite.

The Australian-owned and -operated company includes the brands ‘International Transfer’ and ‘International Hotel’ offering a number of product options with secure credit card payments across all rail, hotel, and transfer booking systems.

CEO Jonathan Hume said International Rail was working with effected agents in re-booking clients as swiftly as possible.

“Our transfer partners Mozio and Daytrip can assist with airport, hotel and intercity transfers around the world; online, efficiently and securely. Whilst our hotel system, International Hotel, offers vast content to assist with hotel and apartment bookings,” he said.

Agents requiring urgent assistance from International Rail can call 1300 387 245 or 0417 444 242.

Excite has become the third wholesaler with an Australian presence to fold in less than four months, after Tempo Holidays and Bentours suffered a similar fate in September last year.

Established in 2002 from a single office in Sydney, Excite also has a presence in New Zealand, the US, Thailand, Singapore, Greece, and the UK.

The company withdrew from the ATAS accreditation scheme in December 2018.

If you have been affected by Excite’s collapse, please get in touch by emailing editor@travelweekly.com.au.

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