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Don’t let a complaint turn festive season into fiasco

December 21, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The festive season is a time for relaxing and unwinding on holiday – although occasionally something goes wrong and a travel agent receives a client complaint.

AFTA’s national manager of compliance and membership, Naomi Menon, has some good advice.

“When dealing with complaints, ATAS accredited members need to remember that they are required to abide by the ATAS Complaint escalation process,” she says.

“Not only does adherence to the process ensure compliance with the Code of Conduct but it will help staff and customers understand the process and can clarify expectations.

“Hopefully, it doesn’t need to come to that.”

Menon points out that the NSW Ombudsman provides some solid guidance:

“When things go wrong, many people demand no more than to be listened to, understood, respected and if appropriate given an explanation and apology. Good communication is critical – and a prompt and sincere apology will often avoid a dispute escalating and the significant time and resources that this can involve.”

All ATAS members are required to have a complaint handling policy that is free and easy to access. The policy should incorporate the ATAS escalation process which is as follows:

  1. Stage 1 – The ATAS member is to attempt to resolve the complaint in line with their policy within 13 days.
  2. Stage 2 – If the consumer is not satisfied with the outcome of Stage 1, the complaint should be referred to AFTA for the ATAS Compliance Manager to review the complaint.
  3. Stage 3 – Where a complainant is not satisfied with Stage 2, the ATAS Code Compliance Monitoring Committee (ACCMC) will review the complaint and make a determination.

Menon advises that now is the perfect time to ensure all staff are familiar with your complaint handling policy, the ATAS escalation process and Code of Conduct obligations.

She concludes: “AFTA does provide a free complaint handling policy template if you are looking to revise your policy which is available on our website. Wishing you all Happy Holidays and fast and effective resolutions to any complaints!”

Edited by Peter Needham

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