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Published on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

ABTA refuses to defend 'disgusting' fee to attend Travel Convention


Travel agents are shocked at the fee to attend ABTA's virtual Travel Convention, saying £125 for the one-day online event is too much.

Some have criticised the Association for charging its members anything at all at a time when they are struggling to make ends meet.

Posting on social media, one said it was 'disgusting charging members', adding: "Don't hit the folks already impacted financially."

Another said ABTA was 'having a laugh'. One homeworker told TravelMole he had written to ABTA requesting free places for self-employed agents, many of whom didn't qualify for any of the government's coronavirus financial support packages.

ABTA declined to respond to the comments and refused to say how many members had signed up to the event on 14 October. The Association was forced to cancel its overseas convention, which was due to take place in Marrakech this year, due to coronavirus.

Instead, it will host a day-long event with speakers including Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Consular Director of the Foreign and Development Office Jennifer Anderson, Chair of the Star Alliance Julie Murphy and British Ambassador to Portugal Chris Sainty.

When TravelMole announced the line-up of speakers in an online article, which mentioned the £125 fee to members (and £249 for non-members), agent James Hill commented: "Has ABTA no idea that Agents have zero income this year?? How far removed from their members can the get??"

In a quick Twitter poll in which TravelMole asked if agents thought the fee was reasonable or a rip-off, more than 59% of the handful of respondents said it was a 'rip-off'.

Fewer than 8% said they thought the fee was good value.

One TravelMole reader said £125 was 'totally unreasonable while we are holding our heads above water, ABTA get real', another suggested the fee was raised for non-members and members were given free access. One said charging £125 was 'ridiculous, when we are trying to save every £ with barely any income since April'.

A few agents pointed out that there were other online travel events with a similar line up that were free for their members to attend, suh as The Institute of Travel Management one-day event next week, so questioned why anyone would pay an entry fee at all.


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  • ABTA Virtual

    nice idea to have a bubble of 6 at the back of the agency etc etc - but many of us work from home and cannot have people from different households to join and share the cost - which is £125 PLUS VAT which most of us cannot recover as de-registered for VAT as Income has dropped below £82K etc etc.

    By JAMES HILL, Tuesday, September 29, 2020

  • Let's not be harsh folks...

    Yes, it's a lot of money when you've been earning nothing for months but in bringing in Grant Shapps, ABTA have finally done something worthwhile for members. Mr Shapps has failed in his duty to provide any form of leadership, support or even encouragement for the industry throughout this crisis - even rivaling ABTA themselves in his uselessness. Surely there must be countless members of the industry who would like to give him some 'feedback'? Go on, treat yourselves - you deserve it! And hey, it's a virtual event, so form a bubble of 6 in the back room of the agency (assuming you've not been evicted yet), huddle around the dim light of the computer screen (in power saving mode) and take it in turns to give him a (virtual) slap. &#pound;20 each? Bargain! ;-)

    By ex Severn, Thursday, September 24, 2020

  • The Real World

    It shows how far ABTA are from the real world when they feel they can justified charging £125 for an industry that is in crisis.

    By Roy Jones, Thursday, September 24, 2020

  • Disgusting

    ABTA should pay agents to attend.

    By J Wick, Thursday, September 24, 2020

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