Published on Thursday, October 22, 2015

Agents disgusted as Virgin Holidays cancels fam trip for high bookers

Virgin Holidays has disgusted the trade by cancelling a fam trip to Florida for high booking agents.

The tour operator, which announced last week it was ditching trade sales and going exclusively direct, was due to take agents on the educational next month.

David Celino-Stock was among those who was given a place on the trip two weeks ago as a reward for several major bookings with the company.

But on Tuesday he got an email saying the trip was cancelled.

After he expressed his disgust in a post on the industry's Facebook forum Travel Gossip, industry colleagues rallied in support.

Janette Ashby said the decision was shocking.

"How rude of them, and a shocking way to behave to agents who have given them lots of large bookings," she said.

"It makes you wonder how they will go about answering any queries or complaints etc. with any Virgin Holidays already booked by travel agents."

Paul Smith agreed: "I think they have a problem now though. I've just changed VS to UA flights I think it's going to have an impact on all of the Virgin Brand. Is Richard Branson listening I wonder?"

Linda Parsons said the prize should be honoured.

"Pretty disgusting to treat agents like this. Think they should have honoured that from all your previous bookings," she posted to Celino-Stock.

Jenny Jackson added: "Dirty tricks ....really not nice is it to treat long standing loyal agents for 30 years like this. Very disappointing David."

A Virgin spokeswoman said: "We are honouring all familiarisation trips within the notice period for trade partners and are also honouring any prizes won up to date.

"With the particular situation of Mr Celino-Stock, he was selected to join a FAM trip after making a Virgin Holidays booking, however, the trip will no longer be going ahead as it is outside of the 30-day notice period."

She said 30 days is the average contracted notice period Virgin has with its trade partners. Notice was given last Friday, when the company announced it was going direct-sell only.

"We would like to apologise to Mr Celino-Stock for any inconvenience and are contacting him to ensure that we cover any out-of-pocket expenses," added the spokeswoman.

She assured agents there would be no impact to customers who have made bookings through the operator.

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  • Are VAM trips ethical ?

    Seems to me from reading the comments from those affected, that these VAM trips are unethical, and could amount to bribery if accepted. For example "I think they have a problem now though. I've just changed VS to UA flights ". Surely should book the best flights asked for by the customer, not the "biased choice " of the agent ?

    By Geoff Allwright, Thursday, November 19, 2015

  • Lies

    This fam was advertised [in a magazine] and you had to register the bookings you did ! Is that not a prize then ? When I received the phone call from [Virgin] staff I was told I had won (this means a prize) a place on the trip for one of the bookings I had done ! Therefore another lie by Virgin Holidays

    By David Celino-Stock, Friday, October 23, 2015

  • Virgin

    We stopped booking groups with Virgin in 2008. This was after a long ( 5 hours) flight delay, and no compensation for a group of 55, not even a meal was offered as the catering at Newark was closed for the night. we have cross sold more than £1,000,000 of groups since then. don't trust Virgin.

    By john tangney, Thursday, October 22, 2015

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