Clients have to bear some risk, argues Bevan

Ian Taylor

Dnata Travel would not have resumed taking UK bookings for this summer had it known in July there would be so many changes to travel corridors. But dnata Travel Europe chief

executive John Bevan said customers had to “take some responsibility” when holidays are cancelled due to changing government advice and warned companies would change their terms and conditions to share the risk.

Bevan told Travel Weekly: “If I had

my time again, I would have foregone the bookings. Things started to reopen. We were keen to get things rolling so we accepted the bookings. Then the government switched off Spain and chaos followed. We had clients screaming to cancel, airlines still flying, people wanting to amend. The call centres went mad.” He argued: “Clients knowingly

took a risk. If people buy holidays knowing a destination could change to ‘red’, they have to bear some risk. Everyone who booked from June on

John Bevan is chief executive of dnata Travel Europe

was taking a risk. You have to take some responsibility. We will see a change in terms and conditions.” Bevan warned: “The situation

now is very serious [and] we don’t see it changing. I’m worried we’ll see a lot of companies not able to carry on come the end of October.” However, Bevan backed Abta’s

decision last month to affirm that Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel requires members to cancel bookings and offer full refunds. A member of the Abta board, he

said: “It was a board decision. The problem is the airlines. The Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) aren’t linked to the airline regulations and if the airlines carry on flying, the most-expensive part of a package has a different rule. The PTRs and airlines have to come together, otherwise tour operators which put together components will stop doing it and passengers won’t be protected.” Bevan added: “Covid has shown the industry to be fragmented. We

need better coordination.” i Business, back page

Surge in homeworking interest Juliet Dennis

Homeworking firms have reported a surge in enquiries as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. They say agents’ interest

in remote working has been fuelled by the UK lockdown, rising number of redundancies and uncertainty over the future of high street agencies. Not Just Travel said it had received

hundreds of applications since it started recruiting for 50 to 100 agents in July for a new division of experienced homeworkers, while Travel Counsellors recently reported recruitment had returned to pre-Covid levels. Speaking on a Travel Weekly

webcast, Not Just Travel co-founder Paul Harrison said: “We had 200 enquiries in the first week [in July].” With so many applicants, he said

the business could select applicants who had demonstrated loyalty in previous roles. Amanda Matthews, managing

director of Designer Travel, expects a temporary “boom” in homeworking as a result of the pandemic. Her business has just taken on a further five homeworkers, bringing its total to 95, and is forecast to hit 100 this year. She said: “It’s a really good time if

you want to be a homeworker.” But she also predicted that

numbers would fall after rising. “At the moment, people have no

options, but when opportunities resurrect themselves, there will be a lot of dropouts,” she said. Matthews stressed homeworking

Amanda Matthews

travel management companies faced with redundancy. Corporate managing director

was “not the answer for everyone” and urged agents to “do their homework” because companies’ policies varied on issues such as joining and exit fees, commissions, and the generation of sales leads. Travel Counsellors reported

increased interest from agents in independent ‘bricks and mortar’ agencies, and from agents at small

Kieran Hartwell said: “With many people now more accustomed to working remotely, the opportunity is desirable and familiar, and they’re also discovering they can work remotely in duos, trios and teams, employ assistants or migrate their high street store to a flexible working model.” Jennie Watson, co-director

of Cheam-based Village Travel, which ceased trading last month, is now considering homeworking. She said: “Rent and insurance are

huge overheads. A lot of my clients still want to book with me, so if I can join a homeworking business I can

claw something back.” iWebcasts, page 10

10 SEPTEMBER 2020 7

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