UK Operational support
How tour operators’ UK offices assist holidaymakers once their holiday is underway
More than 17 million inclusive tour passengers travel with FTO members each year. In order to ensure that help and assistance to both customers and resort teams is available 24 hours a day, the tour operators have dedicated teams of personnel based in the UK within a department commonly known as the ‘Duty Office.’ It is their responsibility to provide support and advise on a variety of subject matters. The key functions of the ‘Duty Office’ can be categorised into a number of headings as follows:
The crisis affects a number of individuals, e.g. coach crash, air disaster, the Duty Office is the main link between resort and the UK. It is their responsibility to implement procedures to manage the crisis and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the customers and staff whilst keeping the Directors, Press Office and other departments informed of the situation. In a crisis situation it may be necessary for the Duty Office to charter aircraft to repatriate customers, organise counselling for affected customers and staff parties, purchase additional accommodation and transport and authorise meals arrangements.
Some customers require medical attention whilst abroad. It is imperative that they receive the correct medical care and that their insurance cover is sufficient for the treatment required. The Duty Office acts as a liaison between the resort office and the insurance company to ensure that this is the case. If treatment can not be provided in resort, the Duty Office will assist the Insurance Company in repatriating the customers.
In serious circumstances it may be necessary to be a support mechanism to the UK relatives and where appropriate arrange flight seats for them to travel to resort to be with their next of kin.
Sadly, some customers do pass away whilst on holiday and in these circumstances the Duty Office will liaise with the resort office, the insurance company, the next of kin regarding the repatriation of the body.
The Duty Office assist their airport staff in finding alternative flight seats to holiday destinations in cases of missed departure. This may mean purchasing seats from other operators on a mutual aid basis.
Overbooking – Accommodation
On occasion hoteliers notify the tour operators that they have over booking situations in their properties and usually the pre departure administration teams manage this. However, if this notification is received on the day of departure, the Duty Office will act as a support mechanism to the resort office trying to solve the accommodation issues.
Overbooking – Flights
In the event of a flight overbooking, the Duty Office will assist their airport staff in finding alternative flight seats to / from holiday destinations. This may mean purchasing seats from other operators on a mutual aid basis. In the event that it proves impossible to find a seat to the original UK departure airport, the Duty Office will arrange transfers for the customers on arrival in the UK back to their original airport.
For a nominal administration fee The Duty Office have the facility to provide emergency cash advances. Customers can contact a friend or family member and ask them to call the Duty Office in order to arrange the advance. The amount to be advanced is debited from that person’s credit card.
UK Message Services
The Duty Office is able to forward messages from families in the UK to customers on holiday. The message is passed to the resort office and delivered to the customers at their accommodation