04 April 2006

Company failure the modern way

Here's an interesting twist on the way these things normally happen.

When tour operators and travel agencies go bust, the first we hear of it is usually a notice from ABTA or from the Civil Aviation Authority who run the ATOL licensing scheme. There's normally very little information; a standard note on the status of travellers who are abroad at the time or have forward bookings, and some advice about possible refunds.

That's it really. It is in the nature of these things that offices close, telephones shut down, and directors/staff are difficult to contact. Sometimes if web host companies are slow to close the website, there might be a sad notice apologising to customers and thanking them for previous business.

Today it was the turn of an agency/operator in Harrogate called Raho Travel, which traded as Kiwi Talk Travel and Oz Talk. The CAA has just called in their ATOL bond to repatriate & refund customers.

What makes this one different is that I first saw it on a newsfeed from Travelmole.com, a travel trade community site, and attached to the news item is a comment from the owner explaining how the business came to collapse - basically the drop in business after the tsunami created their problems but, she argues, the CAA has acted prematurely forcing them into liquidation. This is then followed by another comment from a manager at another well-know tour operator expressing sadness and asking her to get in touch to see if there's anything he can do to help!

Amazing how the internet can shape communities, accelerate the pace of communications and bypass the traditional gatekeepers of news dissemination!

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