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http://www.freelancedirectory.org/?name=Julian.Bray.aviation.comment Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation, keynote presentations and workshops for corporate organisations on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. He operated at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo , British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book. Journalist and Broadcaster. After-dinner speaker and presenter.

Direct links to a selection of television and radio contributions can be found at foot of this page. Scroll down. Join the conversation here or on Twitter at @aviationcomment

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Sunday, 18 July 2010

Failed Goldtrail and previously failed XL Leisure Group possible links!

ABTA given up fighting for the traveller or just a foil for dodgy agents and holiday companies? Aviation and Media Expert Julian Bray finds out....


Holidaymakers will be astonished to hear that the Goldtrail Group trading under several brands which collapsed into administration late last Friday had previously been fined £11,000 by the trade protection body (Association of British Travel Agents) ABTA after hundreds of complaints had been sent to the trade body and seemingly covering the entire management bad rule book. 

Goldtrail had even had a nip in the shins from BBC's Watchdog. Possibly equally amazing, it is now coming to light that many of the failed XL Leisure Group affecting some 60,000 souls (ATOL bonding claims still in the pipeline by all accounts!) bear strikingly similar if not identical names to that of the Goldtrail Board. Must be some mistake.....we will investigate further. 

The fragrant Frances Tuke of ABTA, at the time loftily brushed any Goldtrail worries aside by saying: "Goldtrail would like to remain in ABTA membership." I bet they would! A bit like half showing a yellow card, when a red card, sending off and a lifetime ban with hard labour, would be considered more appropriate.

The truth is the cosy media relationship ABTA, (through the genial soothing FORMER mouthpiece, rent a quote Keith Betton during his tenure carefully and expensively crafted over the years), is now showing signs of breaking down. In Coalition Britian, ABTA sadly no longer acts in the interests of readers and viewers  (if it ever did) and some travel agents and ATOL holiday outfits still in membership of ABTA, are simply trading on past glories and long forgotten owners, they need to have the ABTA membership urgently pulled and the ATOL revoked. Both unlikely to happen.

But where is the media to turn to?

A few journalists,consultants and experts are prepared to put thier heads above the battlements but not many. Certainly many people who would not normally be in a position to experience an air package holiday, - we've all met them-  had it not been for the likes of the failed Goldtrail and its imitators.

Simply the travel game is now up. Wholesale changes in the taxation of  airports and aircraft, fluctuation in currency rates, Bank business lending a lottery continuing squeeze, rocketing fuel prices, massive add on charges for luggage and in flight meals, value added tax being raised to 20%, jobs becoming more difficult to hold onto...  all these factors will create a massive vacuum as we head towards Autumn and the major travel trade selling period.  There will be many more Goldtrails type failures before the year is out.....

Simply the money you pay travel companies now for holidays next year will have been long spent. There is a strong case for setting up ring fenced client accounts (just as a solicitor does) and holding holiday funds, or the proportion used for securing the facilities, well away from day to day company turnover and accounts but the rock 'n' roll of  company finance would all dry up overnight.

So my advice, is to shop around take advice from an independent travel agent and more importantly your own networks, be prepared to pay a bit more and ALWAYS use a proper Credit Card (not debit card) to fund at least £200 of the overall transaction, as then the credit card company is probably the best and fastest target for any recovery action, indeed the CAA will positively direct you towards your credit card company and consider your claim settled. 

With Credit card payments you have the legal protection of the UK's splendid Consumer Credit Act (Section 75). Finally, always keep all your paperwork in date order, as your documents following any administration or company failure may be the ones relied upon to effect the eventual payout. If all other avenues are exhausted, then an online claim through your local County Court.
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