Agents fear new wave of holiday claims ‘sharks’

Lucy Huxley and Lee Hayhurst

Agents fear an “influx” of legal claims from holidaymakers who travel this summer and complain the experience is not what they paid for. Speaking on a Travel Weekly

webcast, Cruise Nation owner Phil Evans warned of “sharks” targeting holidaymakers in resorts this summer to “make a big buck”. “We don’t know yet what the new

norm is going to be,” he said. “But if you start changing that

experience for people, they’re going to say, ‘this isn’t what I booked’. That’s going to open a can of worms.” Tony Mann, managing director

of Idle Travel, said it was important to educate customers so they “know what to expect”. He said: “There’s information out there to get people understanding that travel will have changed. It’s definitely going to alter at the beginning.” Speaking on a recent Travelzoo

webcast, Martin Alcock, director of Travel Trade Consultancy, said the situation could, “in a worst-case

Phil Evans

Matt Gatenby

scenario”, mirror the rise in fake gastroenteritis claims that previously dogged the industry. He said there was a “grey area”

in the Package Travel Regulations about “whether you delivered what the customer paid for” and feared customers might complain if hotel facilities such as kids’ clubs, restaturants and swimming pools were closed or open on a rota basis. Alcock warned: “You’ll have

people from claims firms out in resort saying ‘you paid for this luxury holiday and you haven’t got half the

Tony Mann

services’. That’s the real danger.” Legal expert Matt Gatenby, a senior

partner at Travlaw, said he expected claims to be made for holidays not as advertised, but felt most customers would understand “this is just part of travel for a short while”. He said he expected courts and

arbitrators to be “a little more relaxed in terms of what might constitute a ‘significant change’ given the overall context” but urged agents to review terms and conditions and to be

honest with customers. iWebcasts, page 10

Leger to revive Shearings brand

Juliet Dennis and Lucy Huxley

Leger Holidays is to resurrect the Shearings brand as domestic operators gear up for a July 4 reopening. Leger has acquired Shearings’

name, website and customer database for an undisclosed sum to “bring the iconic brand back to life”. The deal does not include Shearings’ coaches, hotels, sister brands or staff at the Specialist Leisure Group, which went into administration on May 22. Leger chief executive Ian Henry

said the escorted tours specialist was keen to develop Shearings’ UK tours portfolio. It will start with 30 tours including Scotland, Wales, the

southwest and South Coast, similar to Shearings’ offering but “not a replica”. Henry predicted an increase in

staycations post-Covid 19, adding: “We’re going to be assisted by the fact the market will actually be in our favour as well, at this time.” News of Shearings’ acquisition

came as UK operators reported increased demand for domestic breaks as the government allowed a reopening of hotels, pubs and restaurants from July 4. Great Little Breaks trade sales

director Chris Cundall said: “We’ve had a massive influx of interest that none of us anticipated. “We’re getting bookings for July

and August and more agent bookings than direct.”

with the Isles of Scilly generating particular interest. General sales manager Lee

Hamilton said: “We are optimistic now the PM has given the green light for British breaks. People will be confident to book summer getaways, and holidays closer to home will be the top choice for those looking to get away in the next month or two.” Agents are working with more

Agent followers on the operator’s

Facebook page increased from 1,800 to 3,200 last week. Prestige Holidays, which recently

started featuring UK hotels for the first time, reported a “noticeable increase” in calls from agents for domestic breaks and expanded its range,

domestic suppliers, including operators not previously known for UK breaks, such as Kuoni and Intrepid Travel. Travel Counsellors said more than

half of its enquiries in the last week were for UK breaks, while Barrhead Travel noted a “marked increase in demand for late breaks” in the UK.

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