No-one is wildly excited by ‘financial protection’ or the EU Package Travel Regulations. There are so very many more interesting facets of holidaying to talk about. I’m almost embarrassed to even raise the matter.
But this dull, apparently tedious matter is, in reality, so significant that I’m taking the risk. You see, I am astonished that anyone would consider booking any holiday, much less a long-anticipated African safari from the UK without making sure that it is a securely protected ‘package’, that they have UK holiday financial protection…
Don’t miss out on our UK safeguards
As befits the country that pioneered the package holiday, British consumer protection is some of the best in the world. So long as you book with a bonded tour operator, your holiday will be safe even if the worst should happen and that company should go bust.
Even more usefully, you will have the full protection of a raft of consumer legislation that safeguards the traveller’s interests in the event that almost anything goes wrong.
Reputable travel companies will give you security through one of the following:
- An Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL)
- Membership with an approved body such as ABTA; the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT); the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO); or the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO)
- A suitable insurance policy
- A protection scheme or trust fund for any payments you make in advance.
Contrast this with booking with the growing number of travel suppliers from airlines to online travel agents who circumvent or disregard the law:
If you shop around and book holiday arrangements piecemeal you may (or may not) save money. But you will take on board the risk that if one part of your arrangements go awry, it may have a knock on effect on everything else. If you get stranded because of floods, fire or anything else, you could find yourself trying to arrange private helicopter transfers out of a crisis, booking additional flight tickets and last-minute new accommodation. That is pretty hard to achieve when all phone and mobile communications have been lost. This was the situation faced by people staying in the same lodges as our clients during a flood in 2012.
If you book with a company without the financial protection that is required in the UK, everything may go very well and you could have a terrific trip. Again, it may well be cheaper than booking with a bonded and licensed company. In fact, it really should be substantially cheaper – as you are forgoing a considerable safeguard.
And if you have booked a combination of accommodation and transport, then it is a legal requirement that there be financial protection in place. This is what all those dreary logos and acronyms that tour operators plaster all over their material is all about.
If this sounds like the zealous ranting of the converted, that will be because it is! Until I started a travel company I liked the direct control that independent booking gave me (and that was before the internet)! Now, however, I always book a package anywhere outside our own patch.
What can happen…
My sister recently booked a family skiing holiday from South Africa to Chile. Struggling to find a competent specialist in her part of the world, she booked separately with hotels, airlines and car rental company. When she was grounded in Brazil due to volcanic ash, this meant she had to buy new tickets for a family of five on the day of travel in order to get their trip back on track. A very costly but salutary reminder that a proper package pays off.
Finally, it may be worth pondering that if a travel company trades outside legal requirements with regard to financial protection, what other economies and shortcuts might they be prepared to make?
Look for the logos.
An ATOL license if your trip includes a flight. Typically, ABTA, AITOT, ABTOT or the TTA if it doesn’t.
If there is no mention of financial protection; just ask. It is a legal requirement within Europe and it is a vitally important protection for you that paying by credit card does not replace.
100% Financial Protection
For all travellers booking in the UK, Cedarberg Africa offers 100% financial protection. Below are the logos that signal that we have bonding in place.
An Atol license is mandatory for holidays including flights
We protect our non-air holidays through ABTA.
Other companies’ logos may by slightly different as there are a selected number of ways that the UK government allows us to arrange UK holiday financial protection.
If there is no indication of any protection at all, you should quiz the travel company before you book.