Gemma Antrobus, Aito Agents chairman, said the issue was one which the trade “cannot take lightly” following reports at the end of last year that Mark Warner had introduced surcharges on its European ski holidays.
David Hopkins, the operator’s managing director, wrote to clients warning them of the surcharge of between £30-£50pp which he branded “necessary and unavoidable”, according to reports in the Mail on Sunday.
Discussing industry issues during an “Ask the Aito Agents Panel” session, Antrobus told delegates. “The morning the article about a non-Aito member surcharging came out was a stark warning.
“This is a fact and some [agents] have already had to face it. It’s a very difficult conversation to have with your clients when you sell face-to-face.”
Moderating the discussion, Ted Wake of Kirker Holidays said being able to guarantee the price of a holiday was a “vital commitment” to customers.
Matt Spiller, agent manager at InsideAsia Tours, told delegates the operator had used the fluctuation in currency values as an “opportunity” to boost interest.
“[Surcharging] is not something we do and many Aito operators think the same way. We have had huge problems with the exchange rate this year, but we see it as a selling opportunity because we tell people about the price change before it happens and have seen [them go ahead with their] bookings as a result.”