Page 3: Current challenges
In a very competitive and increasingly globalised world, there are several pressures on Trade Associations themselves. The nature of their sectors regularly changes as new technologies emerge, as new competitors appear and as companies amalgamate through merger or takeover. It is a major challenge for Trade Associations to adapt and anticipate change in order to provide leadership for their sectors and to generate adequate resources to fulfil their role. Increasingly this involves co-operation and partnership.
Trade Associations can learn from each other by sharing best practice. The Trade Association Forum was formed to encourage the development and exchange of best practice information between trade associations.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is the second largest travel Trade Association in the world. More than 2000 travel agents and over 600 tour operators are ABTA members. Its logo is recognised by over 80% of the travelling public.
Travel is a vital part of many people’s lives, and so are holidays abroad. Each year millions of people use a travel agent, and 90% of all overseas package holidays are booked through ABTA members. This is for good reason. Things can go wrong and people look to ABTA for the vital consumer protection that it provides.
- ABTA offers a travel advice service to customers – including on-line information – used by more than 65,000 people in 2000/2001.
- ABTA members offer customers important financial protection. Should an ABTA member fail financially before the start of a holiday, then money paid in advance will be refunded. If a company fails while customers are abroad, they will be repatriated at no expense.
- Members must offer the ABTA consumer arbitration scheme which, when there is a dispute, provides redress without the need to go to Court and which resolves over 1,400 cases a year.
- ABTA promotes industry training and members have to comply with a rigorous Code of Conduct committing them to high standards of service.
Although travel agents do not have to be licensed, ABTA has pressed for tighter regulation in the UK and Europe to sustain consumer confidence. ABTA also works with government and members to improve access to travel for disabled people and so help to develop a largely untapped market.
Further information about ABTA can be found at www.abta.com