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NEWS


udden restrictions on travel to Spain. Watch in full at go.travelweekly.co.uk/webcasts TRAVEL AGENTS


David


Walker, Travel Snob


VIATOR FOUNDER ROD CUTHBERT


Kate Harris


Lee


Gemma Antrobus


A


‘We need a government package to support us’ They need to know


gents have called for the government to find a way to financially support owners of small


independent travel agencies who classify themselves as directors. Kate Harris, of Inspired Travel,


explained that she is paid as a director through dividends and PAYE – “so I’ve had no money” – and that she had no success applying for Universal Credit or furloughing herself because of the way her company is structured. She said: “Somebody needs to


look at the income for directors in the travel industry. I think when people mention the word director, they see fat cats and nothing could be further from the truth. “It’s soul-destroying for small-


business owners. Staff are earning more money than you when they’re furloughed and I’m coming in taking all the flak on a day-to-day basis. “It doesn’t just affect me. My staff


have come in and sobbed because they feel so guilty because they can’t come in and help when they’re getting income and I don’t have a brass farthing. That’s not their fault,


travelweekly.co.uk


we’re grafters. We’ve worked through this and now we need a bit of help


that’s something the government has created and allowed to happen.” Harris, who bought her shop


in February with her savings after “renting for years”, added: “They [the government] need to understand that we’re grafters. We’ve worked through all of this and we now need a bit of help.” Gemma Antrobus, owner of


Haslemere Travel, said the government should also look at helping agencies on business rates, grants, furlough and credit card charges. “We need a robust package from


the government that shows they recognise the difficulties of the travel industry,” she said. “We would all understand if they said ‘we don’t know how it’s going to play out over the next six months – and we have to make these decisions at very short notice – but because we need to do this, we will offer you this support’.”


Rod Cuthbert


Hayhurst, Travolution


‘Expedia and Airbnb have shown Google how to do it’


E


xpedia and Airbnb have been praised for their responses to Covid-19 but Google’s standing in


travel has gone down, according to Viator founder Rod Cuthbert. Speaking as part of the


Travolution Start-Up Summit, Cuthbert was asked which travel companies he most admired and regarded as coping well. He said: “Expedia and Airbnb


would be two examples of companies that, while they haven’t done perfectly – and I challenge anybody to do perfectly in this environment – have done really well.” Cuthbert said it was difficult


to do right by staff, customers, supplier partners and shareholders. He said: “You’ve got a lot of people to keep happy, but both [Expedia and Airbnb] have done really well. “I would contrast that with


Google’s travel division, which extracts billions of dollars out of our industry each year and has had a tin ear to the fact that while it would have earned billions of dollars in the


Google’s standing


as a good citizen has definitely gone down


first quarter the pandemic rendered it all useless. “It didn’t give any of it back, and


they’re absolutely in a position to do so. Its standing as a good citizen has definitely gone down.” Cuthbert said one of the key


aspects of Viator’s culture was that it would always get back to people, even if they were not interested in working together. “If somebody wanted to sell


their products through us or partner with us and we weren’t interested, we didn’t ignore them,” he said. “The reason for that was selfish and commercial. Today’s minnow can be tomorrow’s shark. That person might turn up a year later at Expedia and you want to do business with them and if you blew them off 12 months ago then you’re in a bad position.”


6 AUGUST 2020


11


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