Our member blog this week comes from member Nick Wilson who runs Creative Travel & Event Management. ‘We have been operating in this manifestation since 1993 as an Incentive Travel Company and have been trading legally by holding an ATOL Licence in all those 25 years. UK and European law says your holiday or incentive must be protected if you book a package. ATOL is a UK financial protection scheme and protection applies to most air package holidays sold by UK travel businesses. The law says your holiday must be protected if you book a holiday with a single travel firm that includes:

  • flights and accommodation (including a cruise), or
  • flights and car hire, or
  • flights, accommodation and car hire.

The scheme also applies to some flight only bookings – usually those where you book flights (including UK domestic flights) but do not receive your tickets immediately. This is most common with charter flights, but can also apply to discounted scheduled flights or where you pay for flights in instalments. Please note that ATOL does not apply to flights booked directly with scheduled airlines or to flights booked with airline ticket agents.

I often come up against companies pitching for the same business that do not trade legally, do not have the correct licensing or even insurance. There are ways around the ATOL regulations such as invoicing your client for everything excluding the flights and getting a flight provider to invoice the client directly. This does, however, make it difficult to control profit amongst other elements of an incentive trip.

The CAA are looking for ways to close this loophole.

Also, there is TOMS (Tour Operators Margin Scheme – VAT) to take into account which can be a minefield and should be in the mind of all AIEA members that package events etc. I think it is very important that as an Alliance of Event Agencies we are seen to be trading within the law if we are to be taken seriously by not just UK suppliers but airlines and overseas destination management companies as well and its worth noting, that All travel packages sold by this company are operated in accordance with the EU Package Travel Directive 1990 and the UK package travel regulations 1992.You are also protected by our Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance as part of our compliance with the EU Directive on Travel.’