Co-op Holidays has vowed to pay cash refunds for cancelled trips within 10 days, and has pledged not to defer refunds or issue refund credit notes (RCN) in the event of a cancellation.
The pledge is just one feature of the Midcounties Co-op tour operator brand’s new Co-op Holidays Promise, which has been designed to instil consumer confidence and encourage new bookings.
Deposits start from £49pp, and clients can now cancel for any reason up to six weeks before they were due to travel and lose only this deposit and any additional fees paid.
In-house change fees have been scrapped so if a client decides to change their travel plans, the only costs incurred will be those charged by third-party suppliers. If the price increases or falls, clients will either pay or be refunded the difference.
Finally, if the operator has to cancel a holiday for any reason, cash refunds will be paid within 10 working days, including clients’ deposits. It will not issue deferred refunds or RCNs.
Co-op Holidays has partnered with Rock Insurance to launch a new policy to complement the promise, which includes automatic Covid cancellation and medical cover at no additional cost.
The cover is included in all new policies, with Rock also having agreed to back date cover to all policies issued since 14 April where EIG is the underwriter. Customers will automatically receive the enhanced cover at no extra cost.
Co-op Holidays packages are available through any travel company affiliated with Midcounties Co-op; agents working at the group’s high street Co-op Travel agencies; agents working in the group’s virtual call centre; any of the more than 170 homeworking agents running their businesses via The Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel; or any of the 170 independent agency members of the Co-op Travel Consortium.
Hugh Smith, Co-op Holidays operations manager, said the operator’s first aim was to put customer and members first. "Without security and peace of mind, their holiday experience cannot properly begin.
"It will take some time before Covid-19 is a distant memory. Until then, we want the customers of our affiliated agents to be able to book and look forward to that hard-earned holiday."
Rad Sofronijevic, chief operating officer of Midcounties Co-op’s travel division, added: “With customers tentatively but excitedly returning to our high street stores and their personal travel providers, now is the perfect time to be able to offer the extra reassurances the ‘Co-op Holidays Promise’ and our new insurance policy brings."
Sofronijevic also revealed all Co-op Travel stores had now reopened offering appointments to maintain social distancing, and said both the group’s retail shops, personal travel agents and consortium members "had seen a lift in bookings" since the government started to relax the UK’s travel restrictions.