We might have entered a new decade, but the issues of 2019 still loom large – namely the ongoing impact of Thomas Cook’s collapse.
There’s the substantial capacity gap the operator left – rapidly being filled by others such as Jet2holidays, which announced it was adding more than half a million seats to its “hugely expanded” Greece programme (p9).
There’s the passenger refund claims – 10,000 of which are still outstanding, prompting fresh apologies from the CAA (p8).
And then, as dnata Travel Europe’s chief executive John Bevan points out, there are the “hard lessons” to learn.
One such lesson is ensuring the operator has access to client data and can contact customers in the event of an agency’s failure.
Because, as Bevan tells TTG, such details were frustratingly lacking when Cook failed.
The solution, he believes, is to request passenger details from travel partners during the booking process – a move that dnata will implement following peaks (p7).
It’s a solution that, when announced at the Abta Travel Convention last year, raised eyebrows among agents, who worried it could lead to operators targeting their customers directly.
But Bevan insists data will be held “separately and securely” – and erased once the customer returns from their holiday. For any agents who remain concerned, travel lawyer Farina Azam tells TTG that agency agreements can always be amended to ensure agents are protected.
Dnata’s move seems a progressive – and necessary – measure. And crucially, it’s from an operator that already has close ties with, and is trusted by, the trade.
“The Cook crisis showed again that our industry can lose sight of the most important person – the customer,” Bevan points out.
Let’s hope this move by dnata sets a precedent in driving change.