Consumer protection costs and commission payment dates may be affected
As part of a campaign to get holidays paid for earlier, Tui Travel has confirmed that it is “looking at different options” and incentives to push clients to pay the whole cost as soon as they book.
However, agents object to the move, arguing that cancellation charges, consumer protection costs and commission payment dates could be affected.
Besides trying to obtain early payments, Tui also intends from April to extend the period for balance payments to 12 weeks for UK-based in-house agents and 10 weeks for independent agents. Thomas Cook increased to 10 weeks last year.
A company spokesperson tried to calm agents’ nerves by stating that asking for 100% payments upfront was “under discussion”.
She added: “We automatically take the money from our third-party agents by weekly direct debits, allowing a two-week grace period for late payments, so we are not disadvantaging any channel.”
But agents remain sceptical. “If Tui incentivises customers to pay the whole cost at the time of booking, then other operators are sure to follow,” said Eleanor Sheppard, group marketing director at TTA Worldchoice. “What will happen to cancellation charges if Tui and other operators put these changes in place? The cost of travel insurance is sure to rise.”
Nicholas Harding-McKay, managing director of Travel Designers: “They are looking to get all the money upfront but will they pay commission to agents at the same time?”
Julia Lo Bue-Said, leisure director for Advantage, added, “It does impact cashflow, but we have to adapt to it.”