Do I need An ATOL?
Many travel companies and travel consultants ask this very question. It can seem a little confusing as not all travel businesses or enterprises need ATOL.
ATOL is only currently required if you are looking to sell flights. In today’s travel market, the access for consumers to confirm their own flights and attain competitive deals with budget airlines such as Easy Jet, Norwegian Airlines, Ryan Air does lend it self to many niche tour operators offering packages EXCLUSIVE of flights. In this instance, the tour operator does not need ATOL but will still be required to adhere to Package Travel Regulations.
ATOL – Air Travel Organisers License – was a scheme introduced by the UK government in 1973. Overseas holidays were becoming ever popular at this time and so a need to protect consumers from fraudulent activity within the travel industry was needed. The Civil Aviation Authority ( CAA ) and associated franchisees offer ATOL licenses.
ATOL is highly regulated, as it should be to protect consumers. Its main function is to protect consumers if the holiday company collapses whilst they are on holiday and then the client can complete the holiday and be repatriated. ATOL protection also allows for all monies to be refunded to the consumer if the travel company has failed, or collapsed, before the departure date
The CAA is in a position to fund this as £2.50 per passenger is paid into the ATOL fund for each booking. The consumer doesn’t necessarily see this fee as many tour operators, travel agents include this fee within the package price.
THE BIG QUESTION – DO I NEED TO SUPPLY FLIGHTS?
This is a commercial decision. Many travel operators choose not to supply flights and in this instance, as mentioned above, ATOL is not required.
Even five years ago, flights were a must have to allow successful package sales but the positive effects of the internet and globalisation have now empowered the consumer to take control of booking their own individual travel arrangements.
Booking non-flight packages are becoming ever more popular and so many tour operators do follow the non-flight route and still become extremely successful.
However, there is also the argument that consumers do like to click “Book Now”
We would advise that you take a good look at your market. The best way to find out is just to ask your clients. If you are a new start up ask on social media and get a feel of people’s expectations within your market.
DO I NEED TO BE REGULATED IN ANYWAY IF I AM NOT SELLING FLIGHTS?
ATOL is only one part of travel regulation. Even if you choose to omit flights you still have a responsibility to protect client monies. As such you need to adhere to the 1992 Package Travel Regulations. Whether you trade through a trust account model, like PTS offers, or you work with an insurance model client monies must be protected.
If you would like to discuss this further or for any other questions then please contact PTS on 020 7190 9988 or email – firstname.lastname@example.org