Agents should see a profit boost but more can be done to bring airlines into line

Agents concerned about the proposed Atol reforms should instead view them as a potential source of increased revenue and aid to closing sales. Rock Insurance mmanaging director Antony Martin said while the proposed reforms may initially seem costly, dynamic packaging agents will find setting up either a bond or a trust account is ultimately to their benefit. The additional £2.50 charge can also be passed straight
on to the customer.

He said:

“Much of the Department for Transport’s announcement is clearly based on clarifying the levels of protection for the consumer. The proposals not only require agents who dynamically package to simplify their paperwork but also spell out the levels of protection the consumer will receive. This will inevitably better educate the consumer about financial protection and canny agents will be able to point out that while the booking may include the additional £2.50 charge, it brings with it peace of mind. It will allow agents dynamically packaging to differentiate their product by stating the financial guarantees implicit within it.”

Martin also argued that the new financial protection will mean less time and money is wasted in handling customer complaints in the event of failure as repayments are undisputed and quickly handled. For instance a customer stranded overseas on a dynamically packaged holiday will no longer trouble the agent for repatriation but can instead go straight to the CAA.

He said:

“The proposals reduce the need for lengthy complaint handling. It is easy to work out the cost to agents of the failure of a supplier in how much they have to physically pay out. What is rarely considered is the cost to companies as staff spend days after a failure handling the complaints and the reimbursements. The expense of setting up a bond or holding customers’ money in a trust fund should pale in comparison.”

Martin said agents who subscribe to the new bonds or trust accounts coupled with Rock Insurance’s supplier failure cover will find themselves better protected in an increasingly stormy trading environment. He also welcomed Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers’ pledge to consider introducing further legislation within the Atol scheme over the year.

“What this doesn’t offer is total clarity against scheduled airline failure and more should be done to protect against this. Perhaps airlines should be compelled to provide such cover. It also fails to bring click throughs from airline websites under the Atol hat which is surely a complementary requirement.

Martin said.

For more information and further comment call Antony Martin on [telnumlink]07855 309455[/telnumlink] or Ed Robertson on [telnumlink]07779 100096.[/telnumlink]

Rock Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), number 300317.

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