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They are travel companies created every week and a high percentage of these companies will be legit, but running a check on them will help you relieve any fears that you may have about booking with them.

If the travel company is a registered UK company then you can find more information about the company on Companies House website. Run a search for the travel company, and you’ll find out when the company was registered, and when it started operating as a limited company.

Google it – run a search, for the website address and business name, don’t look just at the first page of the search results – look through a few pages to see if you can find any bad press or comments on forums and social networking sites.

If the website mentions package holidays, then they should be bonded by either ABTA , Travel Trust Association etc. I would recommend paying for your holiday with a debit or credit card as this carry’s some protection if the losses are regarded as non-delivery of goods or services.

One of the sites unveiled as a scam last year, had its domain name registered in 2006 and consumers can find out when the web address was created by visiting DNS Stuff and using the domain search [scroll down – it’s free!]

If the site mentions that they sell flights then they have to be registered with Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing [ATOL] so if you don’t see ATOL details on the site then visit this website and run a search on the company concerned.

It’s obvious that consumers are a little weary about booking holidays with unknown travel companies after last years’ holiday scams. As a keen traveller I want to make sure that my trip is hassle free, so if I am booking a holiday with the unknown I try and protect myself by carrying out various checks.

ABTA pulled out of consumer protection last year, so don’t automatically assume you’ll be protected if you book through a travel agent who has an ABTA sign on their door, in the event that they may go bust, or run off with your money without booking your holiday. In addition, ABTA has limited the amount it will pay out if a tour operator goes bust (companies that put the package together), although if this does happen, you should still be protected through the operator’s ATOL. Agents (and niche operators) who are members of the TTA (Travel Trust Association) offer some of the best, if not the best, protection around, so I would recommend going with them.

Excelent Advice from Darren and especially Lisa Hamilton. As a long established ( nearly 12 years) member of the Travel Trust Association, ATOL Holders and also an AITO ( Association of Independent Tour Operators) specialist Travel Agency we have just the pedigree that Darren looked for when booking his holiday to Kos last Autumn. Lisa made an extremely good Point with regards to ABTA, everybody has heard about ABTA, but not everybody understands how much cover is given. Perhaps that could be your next piece of research Darren ?

Is there a resource somewhere of all of the different travel associations in the UK? Or are ATOL, ABTA, TTA, AITO the only ones for me to concentrate on? Thanks Lisa, I wasn’t aware that ABTA pulled out of consumer protection last year, and that the agencies are limited to the amount they are covered for. Is there somewhere were consumers can find this information out?

Not surprisingly, ABTA has not publicised the fact that it is no longer involved in customer protection!

ABTA has been seen as travel’s ‘consumer champion’ for so long, and most people still think that they are covered.

While the story has been covered in the travel trade press, the consumer press has been slow to pick it up and when they have mentioned it, it is only briefly.

Sadly, it will take a disaster/crisis to make this headline news (in the same way as Farepack, the Christmas savings-plan company that went bust last year was splashed all over the newspapers).

If you’ve booked a flight with a charter operator, then you will be protected under the Civil Aviation Authority’s ATOL.

The whole issue of consumer protection with regards to holidays is very fragmented and very confusing.

ABTA’s protection was there to pay out, for example, when a dodgy agent took your money for the holiday, didn’t pass it on to the tour operator, then the agent went bust.

ABTA has not pulled out of consumer protection. What it has said is if someone commits a fraud it won’t pay. This was manly due to the millions it suddenly found it self paying when companies pretend to be members. It is worth noting that to the best of my knowledge no organisation pays out if someone pretends to be a member and their not. For an easy guide see this link It also now limits the amount it pays to tour operator member when a travel agent member goes bust. This does not affect consumers, just tour operator. If you for instance book a ferry and hotel with an ABTA member and they go bust, ABTA will refund you if the trip is not provided. ABTA also has a set of rules that members must follow dealing with everything from staff to how long it takes to reply to a letter. Hope this helps to clear it up a bit.

Michael on 12 February, 2007 at 12:53 am #

The Telegraph newspaper did an investigation on European Vacations and it seemed they are genuine but it is a way of selling holidays in hotels etc. that are short of bookings and you have to weigh up whether the add-ons this company require are too expensive or not – if you could do just as well or better buying your own holiday through a major tourist company!

Suspect they are selling hols. at quiet periods to fill up hotels and not maybe when would suit yourself.

Wouldl be interested to hear if anything further is known about them as we have been offered a by this company..

I should check this post more often. Apologies to those I haven’t responded to but Jez, which company is it? ABTA bonded should mean you do not loose out, but I am not convinced with some of the stories that I am hearing.

ABTA will pay out for accommodation only provided the company was bonded with them. Alas, you can now be a member of ABTA and if you are not selling package holidays, which have to be protected by law, ABTA allow companies to arrange alternative methods of protection, which ABTA have no control over. You should check the conditions of the company and see what it says about financial protection. I have to say I cannot recall seeing a recent failure of such a company, unless it was Leisure Connection which ceased trading a few months ago. Today I had the pleasure of a 15 minute phone call from Florida telling me I had been awarded a 2 week holiday to Florida and the Bahamas. This story was one I had heard 15 years ago which was one of the biggest scams in the UK, ir reached Watchdog and the Daily Mirror. In case you get a similar call, you are offered a 90% discount, no explanation why, but you have to pay £399 immediately. This gives you a voucher to book the holiday at a later date… Don’t touch it with a barge pole, the accommodation is timeshare with bad reviews on tripadvisor and the cruise ship appears to have been built in Scotland in 1955, some luxury that is likely to be. The company is calling itself Travelworld of Florida