ASTA is warning member agents of suppliers and tour companies who are unable to meet short-term financial obligations, and urges members to exercise extra care during the current liquidity crisis. ASTA also urges agents to review consumer travel insurance products to understand coverage in the event of supplier default.
“With today's economic challenges and particularly the reduced availability of credit, some suppliers and tour companies may be unable to meet short-term financial obligations," ASTA said in an alert to member agents. "That includes making deposits and final payments to hotels and other travel suppliers. These difficulties may be only temporary if the supplier is otherwise healthy, but extra care is required to protect agency clients in these economic conditions.
“Travel agents should be particularly diligent in vetting travel suppliers by speaking with company management, checking Better Business Bureau ratings and requesting references," ASTA said. "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. Agents should also create a paper trail of e-mails that are dated and timed. Travel agents should keep their clients informed as appropriate."
If faced with non-delivery of contracted services, travel agents should remind customers that the Fair Credit Billing Act provides some protection for consumer payments made by credit card. To assist 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. Check out the list of ASTA Tour Operator Program members on www.ASTA.org. ASTA members also have online resources and should review their consumer travel insurance products. .