There are so many holiday companies nowadays doing so many different things that getting through all the names and their roles in your holiday booking can be extremely gruesome. This is especially true when you have a complaint to make about your hotel or you’re looking for compensation of some sort. This article intends to help you get through all the jargon and show you how it works. We’ll start from the beginning.
Travel Comparison Websites
If you’re doing an initial holiday search, chances are you’re using one of the many travel comparison website available online. These are websites like Teletext Holidays, Icelolly, Travelzoo, Travel supermarket, Kelkoo, Lastminute.com and many more. When you search these websites, the offers advertised are actually those of other companies and are not provided, organized or booked directly through the travel comparison website. All the offers you see are only advertisements for other travel agents or tour operators. When you call the number on the ads or click on a link, you are directed to the travel agency or tour operator who will give you the details and book the holiday for you.
Travel agents come in many shapes and sizes. From your local independent travel shops around the corner, to your large travel agents like Hays Travel (Hays Travel is also our “parent” company – we work with them and other independent agents to get the best discounts and pass them on to you).
Travel Agents work like brokers, with access to all kinds of flights, hotels, tours, and tour operator packaged holidays. We work with commissions and discounts from these tour operators and various other suppliers that we can pass to the customer, meaning you get better prices than going straight to the source. Travel Agents are also helpful because they can provide you with a wide range of product availability and are not limited to booking with just one company.
Tour Operators come in many shapes and sizes as well. The big ones are Thomas Cook, Thomson, and Cosmos. There are, however, other tour operators that provide great deals on specialty holidays. Tour Operators sell their holidays to Travel Agents with a discount and can also sell their holidays directly to you, the customer. If you go directly to Thomas Cook, for example, you will only be able to get the flights and hotels available through Thomas Cook and no one else. If you book a Thomas Cook holiday through a Travel Agent, chances are you’ve paid less for it and gone through all the different holiday options before settling on a Thomas Cook package.
Tour Operators like Thomas Cook offer flight-only and accommodation-only bookings as well, so it is very possible when you book through a Travel Agent, that you can be flying with Thomson because the flights are cheaper or more convenient and still stay in your preferred Thomas Cook hotel. The main difference between a Tour Operator and a Travel Agent is that Tour Operators often have their own flights and hotel contracts that have been paid in advance and are theirs, while Travel Agents purchase the available spaces one at a time and at the same time you book your holiday.
Bed Banks & Transfer Suppliers
Beds Banks & Transfer Suppliers are companies that provide only accommodation and/or transfers and nothing else. Some examples include Low Cost Beds, Alpha Rooms, You Travel, A2B Transfers and many, MANY more. These companies work in a few different ways. Mainly, they contract hotels and transfers either from a local (i.e. on location) broker or directly with the various hotels they provide. Because they contract large amounts of rooms, they often achieve great prices for accommodation and pass them on to you or to a Travel Agent with commission (even bigger savings for you).
Low Cost Airlines
Low Cost Airlines are just that, low cost. They don’t get any lower in cost and do not offer commissions for travel agents with discounts on flights or extras. Travel Agents can include a low cost airline in your holiday booking and still have your holiday financially protected. This is especially important if you are considering booking each holiday element separately and on your own. Booking each element on your own (not through a Travel Agent) affords you the least financial protection on your purchase and could potentially end up costing you hundreds or thousands of pounds.
Local Handling Agents
These are the agents who will be there, on location, while you are on holiday. They offer the hotel or transfer contracts to your tour operators, bed banks, and transfer suppliers. If you have a transfer booked through A2B Transfers, for example, you need to look for the local handling agent’s name (written on the voucher) when you get to your destination airport.
How This Affects You
Let us say that you’ve booked your holiday with us (a Travel Agent) and the food and service at the hotel is just unbearable. (By the way, we try not to sell these kinds of properties and we do this by asking our customers for their feedback – which is always appreciated). You complain to the hotel reception and they tell you to phone us. Once you call us, we need to send your complaint to the Bed Bank or Tour Operator who we booked your hotel with (since you are our customers, and we are their customers, you usually cannot contact the supplier directly). That Bed Bank or Tour Operator, depending on how they’ve contracted the specific hotel, will contact the local handling agent to pass along your complaint and come up with a solution and a response.
Although this process is time-consuming, we always work with our suppliers to develop better and faster ways of resolving problems. For emergencies, the number of the local handling agent is always on your vouchers. This is the same for any component of your holiday, whether it is booked as a package from one Tour Operator or as a “Dynamic Package” through many suppliers.