Have a burning question you can’t find the answer to? Be it travel trends, a regulatory riddle or destination dilemmas, send us your query for an expert response
I am an agent and a fairly recent member of ABTA. As travel restarts, I want to know what help you can offer if any of my customers’ holidays are not up to scratch. I know that you offer some kind of dispute resolution scheme, but I’m a bit sketchy on details. Could you give me some more information so that if my customers need help I can steer them in the right direction? Anon
What a great question as there can often be misconceptions as to exactly what ABTA can do to help customers resolve disputes and we can also only get involved if the dispute is with one of our members or if the disputed service has been provided as part of a package put together by an ABTA tour operator.
Our customer information team offers information and guidance to customers on the best way to proceed with their dispute if they have reached deadlock with one of our members. Initially, your customer will need to register with us online for us to be able to provide them with this information (you cannot do this on behalf of the customer). Once the dispute has been registered, we will approach the member and ask for further comments or give them the opportunity to resolve the issue prior to the customer being referred to our Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service.
If the ABTA member’s position remains the same, or they are unable to reach an agreement with the customer, we will then provide the customer with the information they require to pursue the matter via our ADR service. This is then referred to Hunt ADR, who are the facilitators of this service. Hunt ADR will then appoint a qualified individual to review the dispute and make a legally binding decision based on the evidence provided to them.
We can also provide advice to the customer based on our Code of Conduct and we will advise the client if we believe there has been a possible breach, the case will then be referred tour legal department, However, regardless of any subsequent code outcome the customer will still need to take further action via our ADR service or if they prefer the small claims court.
The ADR service is designed to bring you and the customer together to reach a possible positive outcome, ADR is in the vast majority of cases, more cost effective than going to court and much faster. Any results are also confidential, which means the result cannot be published resulting in potentially unwelcome negative publicity, It is also good to note that everything is done online and will not result in either the customer or member needing to attend court.
In summary, our Customer Information Team is here to provide information and advice based on our Code of Conduct and our ADR service. We have lots of useful information on our website which is being reviewed and updated regularly. So, in the first instance, I would advise you to refer your customers to the ABTA website if they require more information.
Hopefully your customers won’t need to use our services very often as the vast majority of holidays provided by our members are of a very high standard and go ahead without any problems.
Chloe Walters, customer information manager
Each issue we speak to a different ABTA employee about their work. This time: Shelly Beresford, head of brand and marketing
As ABTA’s head of brand and marketing I look after everything related to our brand – marketing, advertising, our website abta.com, social media and comms-related member engagement. I am very lucky as I get to work with a fabulous team in all these areas, and we are part of the wider communications department which includes our PR and media team.
I have worked in marketing for over 20 years, starting my career at UK Sport as their marketing coordinator after the 2000 Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games. This was really fun as Lottery and government funding was at an all-time high for elite sport and the UK had a lot of potential to win medals. I moved on to work for another government-backed organisation, which introduced an education pathway for young athletes who had not quite made it in their chosen sport. The apprenticeship programme we developed meant they had options after sport to help them either forge a new career or go on to university. Sadly, the government funding ran out and I found myself pursuing new opportunities which resulted in being interviewed at ABTA. I knew very little about the industry, but had a great love of travel and I remember leaving the interview super excited and really wanting the position. Ten years later, I am still here, a lot more knowledgeable and more enthusiastic about the Association than I have ever been.
The ABTA brand is iconic, widely recognised by both industry and consumers – I would say even more so after this past year. Pre-pandemic we were gearing up for a year of celebrations to mark our 70th anniversary and I was looking forward to interviewing some members who had been with us since day one and others that had joined us throughout the decades – I hope to still do this at some point.
From my perspective, ABTA’s role is ever-evolving. The work we do on behalf of our members is very wide-ranging. Working with and lobbying governments; partnering with destinations on health and safety issues; sustainability; crisis management; providing legal advice; supporting members through their financial protection requirements; facilitating events; the list goes on. One of my main roles is to ensure we are communicating effectively to members, letting them know about the services and products we offer and providing material that they can use to inspire confidence in travel, promoting why it is so important to book with an ABTA member.
But it does not stop there, I get involved with consumer-facing activity as well. ABTA has a high recognition among the general public. People have an innate trust in ABTA, they strongly associate the brand with confidence, safety, reassurance, expertise and reliability – even throughout all the difficulties created by the pandemic. For years we have annually surveyed consumers, but since May 2020 we have conducted seven waves of sentiment research to check that the brand was still as highly regarded and relevant. We all know what has happened over the past year and that consumer confidence has been severely dented; however, perception of ABTA has not changed and sentiment toward the brand remains hugely positive. As one of our most valuable assets this is crucial for us and puts our Members in a strong position. A few years back, following extensive consumer research, we introduced the strapline ‘Travel with confidence’ and while that message, at the time of writing, has been difficult to proactively promote over the past few months we have been promoting booking with an ABTA member enthusiastically at every appropriate opportunity.
Our role has always been to maintain consumer confidence in travel and promote all the benefits of booking with an ABTA member. Right now, we have a huge task ahead. We have to help restore consumer confidence in the industry; we have to inspire and excite people to want to travel and we also have to reassure and inform people about what their holidays are going to look like from the moment they leave their house. Working with our members and destinations, we are in a really good position to do this and give consumers the confidence to get travelling again. But there is a lot to do to get there. My team and I are really looking forward to playing our part in this.