The Internet is, without doubt, one of the greatest innovations in technology in the past 30 years and has democratized the dissemination of information like no other medium in history since the invention of movable type by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century. Indeed, the internet (and by extension, the commerce that is transacted through it) has so insinuated itself into everyday life that in many instances, statute law has been playing catch-up ever since! From a consumer point of view, booking or purchasing anything online can sometimes be the modern equivalent of navigating your way through the lawless territory of the Wild West c. 1875!
Take the recent collapse of the Low Cost Holiday Group which will probably impact on more than 100,000 consumers in Ireland, the UK and even further afield by the time the dust has settled, leaving them (and some travel companies, hoteliers and banks) out of pocket to the tune of probably tens of millions of Euros. The out-of-date and totally inadequate legislation that exists in Ireland means that some consumers who booked both their flights and hotel accommodation through Low Cost Holidays will be covered because that entity had a tour operator license and was thus bonded whereas those who had only booked their accommodation through Lowcostbeds will get next to nothing as that sister operation did not need to be bonded because you don’t require a bond or a license if you are not selling flights in conjunction with other travel components such as accommodation, transfer arrangements, car hire or other ancillary services. This nonsense has to stop but it is unlikely because the travel industry in Ireland is so small that it doesn’t represent enough votes at election time so basically, it is not a priority when it comes to a reform of the current legislation. Unless and until consumers in their hundreds of thousands speak with one voice and instruct Irish politicians to get their amateurish act together, these kinds of insolvencies that impact hugely on consumers are going to happen again and again!
Luckily, because travel agents do have to be licensed and bonded, any consumer who happened to book their Lowcostbeds accommodation through one of them, will be covered — unlike their online-booking counterparts — but it is not acceptable that some sectors of the travel industry (i.e. travel agents and tour operators) have to be bonded to the hilt whilst others (airlines, hoteliers, bed banks etc.) do not have to submit to the same onerous legislative requirements. Either all consumers are protected or they’re not!
Lowcostbeds were not a preferred supplier to Travel Centres (the owners of the Travelbug website) — one of the many reasons why you can depend on the advice disseminated through these blogs. We take our work very seriously and like to think that we have our finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the travel industry and what, as a consumer, you need to be aware of.
Happy (and financially secure) travelling!