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Survey shines stark light on agent confusion over ATAS

May 14, 2014 Corporate, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59Most Australian travel agents favour guaranteed consumer protection as part of the AFTA-administered ATAS scheme, with a national consumer campaign to promote it, a new survey has revealed.

The survey shows that a massive cloud of confusion surrounds the scheme, that some agents plan to have no insurance at all and others have little understanding of what the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS) entails or what is going on. Agents are frustrated at not knowing the cost of the insolvency insurance so close to the ATAS launch, with the Travel Compensation Fund due to vanish at the end of next month.

The dynamite findings emerge from a survey conducted between 14 and 24 April by Australian Travel Agent Barometer, independently operated by Simon Bernardi Consulting.

Some 80 agent owners and owner managers completed the anonymous survey over the Easter break and ANZAC holiday. They represented all buying groups and most states of Australia with the exception of Flight Centre group and agents in Tasmania, the Australian capital Territory and Northern Territory.

Findings by Australian Travel Agent Barometer show that most agents surveyed want consumer protection as a mandatory feature of ATAS accreditation. Many agents are puzzled about what consumer protection will take force once the TCF is dissolved.

Agents are confused over the insurance they currently hold, in terms of the consumer protection it offers, and which insurances they need to take out in future. Some agents signing up for ATAS feel it includes consumer protection and will provide security for their customers. Cordato Partners-www.tourismlegal.com.au

Lack of information on insurance costs, so close to the launch of ATAS, is of concern to many agents, with over 78% of agents surveyed estimating costs at anywhere between zero and AUD 4000 per year.

There also seems to be a fair degree of resignation and indifference to the changes, with many agents relying on their franchise and buying groups to “take care of it”.

Worryingly for consumer advocates, and for responsible independent agents, some existing agents plan to take advantage of the opportunity to have no insurance or consumer protection at all.

Of the agents surveyed, 55% felt they needed more information. Of that 55%, 25% said they had little or no understanding of the ATAS scheme and how it would work.

67% of agents said that ATAS accreditation should include compulsory consumer protection insurance (78% of AFTA agents said it should be compulsory and thought it was unacceptable for some agents to have the insurance and some not), while 48% of agents surveyed said it was not acceptable for some ATAS agents to have consumer protection insurance and some not.

Other findings:

  • 24% of agents surveyed said they would absorb the insurance costs to customers, 29% would pass it on and 48% had not decided;
  • 48% of agents surveyed said that suppliers should not support agents that do not have insolvency insurance;
  • 68% of agents surveyed said they would take out agency insolvency insurance;
  • 28% of the AFTA agents will take insolvency insurance;
  • 30% of agents surveyed said the new scheme would be better for their business, 29% said it would be worse and 41% were unsure;
  • 45% of agents surveyed will sign up for the ATAS accreditation, 48% were unsure and 7% will not sign;
  • Of the 45% who will sign up for ATAS accreditation, 14% will not take up any of the three insurances.

Agents not signing up to the ATAS package are concerned that ATAS does not offer compulsory insolvency insurance. They express the view that the scheme lacks credibility. While some ATAS members will have insurance and some won’t, agents believe the first ATAS agent to fail without insurance will destroy the reputation of the broader scheme.

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Frank Perry says:

    What about ALL agents not only ATAS agents refusing to deal with principles that do not carry insolvency insurance.

    I can understand a consumer wanting his travel agent to have insolvency insurance. I can understand the Government requiring that. What I don’t understand is how inept politicians don’t seem to give a damn about consumer protection in that insolvency insurance is not compulsory.

    The only sensible logic is for the Govt to legislate for all travel industry to hold insolvency insurance, All meaning, Retailers, OTA, Wholesalers, Airlines, Shipping Companies. Why should the retailers carry the burdon which rightfully belongs to principles.

    We are dealing with idiots at all levels here I am sorry to tell you.

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