Australian Escapes back in business
The news that Australian Escapes is ‘back in business’ trading as Australian Escapes Holiday and Travel Club effective from 29 March 2016, has provided some potentially positive news for the company’s 15,000 members, 40 employees and other creditors adversely impacted.
TravelManagers’ Chairman Barry Mayo is quick to point out however that the apparent bailout does nothing to negate the recent and continuing negative consumer media reports, and warns the industry there is still cause for concern in the event of future travel agent collapses.
The Gold Coast Bulletin has run a follow up article on 29 March with the headline ‘Australian Escapes bust: Members ‘unlikely’ to get money back from Gold Coast company’.
Mayo highlights how this additional report with seemingly unauthorised actions by people apparently associated with a failed company, further demonstrates just how easy it is for the integrity of the travel agent industry to be damaged.
“This does little to encourage consumers to use a travel agent or give them comfort or confidence in the integrity of the travel industry. The reality is that even if Australian Escapes Holiday and Travel Club run advertising or obtain positive editorial coverage that they are back in business, consumers will continue to remain skeptical. The real concern for the industry is more and more people will lose confidence in travel agents with every negative media report.”
Ernst & Young administrator Justin Walsh’s comments illustrate Mayo’s concerns.
Walsh was quoted in the 29 March Gold Coast Bulletin article as saying “All the posts going on (Australian Escapes) website are being done without any approval from the administrator’’ and that it was highly unlikely customers would receive their money back.”
“These type of stories that appear in national press and television coverage regarding agency collapses and consumer losses are not good in the eyes of the consumer. The industry needs to be extremely aware of the cumulative and long term detrimental affect these types of negative media reports will have,” says Mayo.
Mayo believes each and every member of the travel industry should be worried and urges the industry members to take positive action before the integrity of the Australian travel agent industry is further compromised.
“We need to collectively as an industry champion state governments to insist on an alternative form of consumer protection against travel intermediary insolvency that is consistent and universal before more consumers are adversely affected and negative publicity follows,” says Mayo.