It is essential that when you are making your travel arrangements that you book with an agent, operator or arranger who carries membership of one of the following organisations.
By placing your booking with such a member, you are ‘buying’ extra consumer protection through ‘protection’ arrangements designed to give the Consumer confidence in that brand. These Travel Trade Bodies are there to promote the interests of their members and they suggest that you can enjoy the additional facilities of a complaints process should that agent, operator or arranger fail to deliver timely responses to your complaint.
In certain circumstances you can invoke an arbitration process to settle your dispute.
Below are brief summaries for each of the organisations along with an appropriate link for further information.
When making your travel arrangements always carry comprehensive travel insurance, your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) and always seek independent legal advice where you encounter difficulties.
THE ASSOCIATION OF BRITISH TRAVEL AGENTS – ABTA – now known as THE TRAVEL ASSOCIATION
The Association of British Travel Agents is the UK's Premier Trade Association for Tour Operators and Travel Agents. ABTA’s membership currently sells holidays to the value of £31.5bn to UK holidaymakers each year. ABTA expects each of its members to comply with its code of conduct, and can assist holidaymakers to commence the arbitration process in certain cases.
THE FEDERATION OF TOUR OPERATORS - FTO
This Organisation is designed to act as a ‘spokesman’ for the major tour operators. Before its merger with ABTA in 2008 it stated that it is there to bring about change; act as an intermediary between its members and government’s; acts as a coordinator in times of emergencies; develops links with other trade organisations; lobbying, public relations; acts as a financial regulator for their non ATOL activities; works with the International Federation of Tour Operators (IFTO); these roles have now been mostly adopted by ABTA since the merger. For further information visit the abta site.
ECTAA – THE EUROPEAN TRAVEL AGENTS AND TOUR OPERATORS ASSOCIATION
This Organisation was founded in 1961 by the National Travel Associations of the then 6 Member States of the Common Market. It now has Members from the Member States of the EU and its role is to represent their members interests within the EU Institutions and International Institutons.
THE ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT TOUR OPERATORS - AITO
This Organisation represents Independent Tour Operators and aims to ensure that its members are fully bonded and comply with UK and European Regulations. Members are bound by the association’s Quality Charter and seek through its members to encourage responsible tourism. The site also acts as a reference tool for potential travellers and operates a dispute settlement service (Arbitration).
AIR TRAVEL ORGANISERS LICENSING - ATOL
This Organisation (ATOL) provides protection from losing your money or being stranded abroad and is operated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. It states that it does this by carrying out financial checks on the firms it licenses and requiring a guarantee, called a bond, to be lodged with them. If a travel firm goes out of business, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will make a refund to you, or if you’re abroad, will arrange for you to finish your holiday and fly you home. Useful information is also contained on the site with regard to bonding arrangements and internet bookings.
INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION – IATA
Consumers will often see ‘IATA’ on their air ticket; IATA is purely a trade body and does not appear to offer assistance to Consumers. They represent 240 of the world’s airline and provides strategical and political support for the airline industry.