ASTA is advising travel agents to protect clients during the current liquidity crisis and recommends vetting travel suppliers while keeping aware of slow supplier payments. “With today's economic challenges and particularly the reduced availability of credit, some suppliers, including tour companies, may be unable to meet short-term financial obligations, including making deposits and final payments to hotels and other travel suppliers,” ASTA said in a statement
The Association also suggested that agents check Better Business Bureau ratings, request references, and keep a paper trail of e-mails and detailed notes of communications. “Once payments are made to the intermediary, agents should verify that funds have been forwarded to suppliers in accordance with contractual or other established deadlines and that customer reservations are confirmed in good standing," ASTA said. “If faced with non-delivery of contracted services, remind customers that the Fair Credit Billing Act provides some protection for consumer payments made by credit card.”
To assist agents in selecting a tour operator or industry supplier, ASTA provides a list of frequently asked questions in qualifying a tour operator and how to qualify a new supplier. Agents can check out the list of ASTA Tour Operator Program members online.