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How to Minimise Holiday Company Failures?

For many years now my wife and I have organised our own holidays because we prefer to use smaller hotels or apartments and enjoy the benefit of greater flexibility and control.

However, during the current recession and its aftermath many UK travel companies have gone into administration with the latest only announced yesterday trading as Holidays 4U and if I was one of its customers, my potential loss would be considerable.

Over 60,000 people will affected based on the 20,000 forward bookings with an average booking covering 3 travellers. Of this number a fair proportion are thought to be flight only, having organised their own accommodation, transfers from the airport, ferries and airport parking or airport hotel parking for the outward journey.

One of our favourite places to visit is one of the smaller Greek islands and we will either book airport parking or choose a hotel close to the airport with parking and then take a flight only to either Corfu or Athens followed by a taxi to the port and then a ferry to the island.

Following the collapse of this holiday company, it has just dawned on me how much out of pocket I could be. Whilst, the flight would be covered by Atol all the other elements would not be.

Taking our last Holiday to Hydra we paid £91 for a Gatwick hotel with parking, £80 for the ferry and the accommodation cost us £750 none of which we would have got back unless we were lucky enough to have sufficient time to find another flight. This would have no doubt cost me more because of sheer demand but at least the difference would have saved these other costs. The chances of finding another flight at such short notice are however, fairly remote and the following is just a few ideas.

Airport Parking and Airport Hotels and Parking

For a small fee you are able to cancel up to 24 hours before departure which would seem to be well worthwhile and one element you can quickly cover and forget about.

Ferry

We have always booked the ferry in advance to save queuing at the port and to always guarantee a space but if there is ample time between the flight landing and the ferry departing I think I might be more willing to take a chance and if the worst came to the worst have to travel on a later ferry.

Accommodation

In the past, if asked for the full amount, we have always paid it but in future one of the considerations when choosing where to stay will be how the payment is broken down. Paying a deposit shows full intent and if we are unable to make it due to a holiday company going into administration then at least your loss is a great deal less and the accommodation supplier at least gets something which seems only fair.

Other Ideas

Credit cards have all levels of protection depending if it is a premium card etc and you can also buy additional protection, although I need to check this out with my own bank first to see if it would cover purchases that you are unable to enjoy because of the actions of a third party.

Under section 75, it is, quite clear if the supplier did not fulfil his part of the bargain you can approach the credit card company for a refund, however, in this case it is the airline charter preventing you and not the ferry company or hotelier.

If I was in the position of Holidays 4u customers and had already paid for my accommodation in full, I would contact them explain the circumstances and see if I could switch to a later date or failing that see if they would be prepared to carry the holiday forward to next year.

For all those people who have suffered my heart goes out to you, especially those who have families and can ill afford the cost in the first place.

By David Cook

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