Four schools had their trips dramatically rescued following the failure of ABTA tour operator TJM travel on 23 May 2013. ABTA tour operator Voyager School Travel stepped in to offer the schools the same trips to Tossa de Mar in northern Spain departing only 24 hours after TJM went out of business. Voyager School Travel provided the trips safe in the knowledge that the payments made by parents to TJM travel for their children’s holidays were fully protected by ABTA.
Ensuring these trips went ahead at such short notice was a daunting logistical challenge but it was made possible by the expertise on offer from Voyager School Travel and the 100% financial protection offered by ABTA for the trips. A further 25 schools have been affected by the failure of TJM Travel and they will receive full refunds, which will enable them to rebook their trips with other ABTA specialist tour operators.
The Gable Hall in Essex, Hayes School Kent, Winterbourne School in Bristol and Wye Vale Buckingham were the four schools affected each of whose parties had paid tens of thousands of pounds to TJM Travel, which was protected by ABTA.
Mr Stephen Whittle, Head of School at Hayes School said: “Receiving the news the day before our trip was due to depart that TJM Travel had ceased business led us to doubt whether the trip would go ahead. Our trip leader received prompt and professional contact from Voyager School Travel providing the reassurance that they could honour the booking, accommodation and planned activities. The trip went ahead and whilst parents were informed of the change all went ahead as planned, with no difference to the students’ and staff members’ enjoyment of a great trip.“
John de Vial, ABTA Head of Financial Protection, said: “Any travel company failure is not good news for their customers but by working together with our Member Voyager School Travel I am delighted that we were able to get these four school groups off on their trips. It is a shining example of the important role that ABTA performs in financially protecting over three million holidays provided each year by ABTA tour operators.”
Nigel English, Managing Director of Voyager School Travel, said: “The pressure was certainly on to turn everything around in 24 hours, but Voyager School Travel was happy to do all that we could to help the schools in these difficult circumstances and ensure that pupils who’d no doubt been looking forward to their trip all year, did indeed get to go away. From the perspective of a professional working in the travel industry, it was great to see that not only does the ABTA bonding system work, but the system is relatively simple and straightforward.”