InteleTravel UK agents are able to sell their own ATOL-protected packages for the first time after the US-based homeworking group finally received its licence from the CAA.
However, the licence limits InteleTravel to a maximum of 5,310 passengers a year.
With more than 11,500 members in the UK, this allows InteleTravel to sell fewer than one ATOL-protected package a year for every two agents.
That said, InteleTravel chief James Ferrara said at its conference last year that it typically receives bookings from only about a third of its members each month, and UK Director Tricia Handley-Hughes estimated that only half would want to put together their own packages.
Tricia said today: “It has always been our intention to continue to sell ATOL products via our suppliers. This small ATOL will only apply when a customer request cannot be fulfilled. Therefore we expect only a small percentage of agents will package their own product.
“As with all agents, we will monitor this through our reporting mechanism on a monthly basis and adjust if necessary, but at this time there is no immediate intention or need to increase the number of seats.”
InteleTravel told members that the company had initiated a ‘soft launch’ of ATOL into its back office this week, ‘to ensure all systems deliver as required’.
Only those agents who have completed InteleTravel’s ATOL training will be allowed access.
Members have been urged to continue to use the ATOL licence of InteleTravel partners ‘where possible’ and only to self-package where they can’t book a suitable package with a tour operator.
InteleTravel face additional fees when selling ATOL packages. In addition to the Air Travel Trust fee of £2.50 per passenger, there is a £12.50 per transaction ATOL-processing fee paid to the ATOL platform provider and a £10 air ticket fee.
James Ferrara said last year that InteleTravel intended to apply for its own tour operator ATOL to create bespoke packages that would provide agents with more commission-earning potential. However, Tricia said: “Given the pandemic which slowed down travel for two years, followed by the current cancellations taking place, our priority is to support our agents with the immediate travel plans in place. We will be monitoring the progress of ATOL before further plans can be put in place.”
InteleTravel was granted an ATOL by the CAA last year, but Tricia said it had taken a ‘strategic decision’ to delay the launch until this week ‘to ensure the ATOL-related products were carefully identified and tested given the number of options available to agents in the booking engine’.
“In addition we have been taking agents through regulatory training followed by testing to ensure they understood the importance of attention to details and remaining compliant. In our opinion, it’s better to remain compliant and get it right first time than measure the time taken.”