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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Are 'Guaranteed Departures' really guaranteed?

Every year, an alarming number of Australians have their dream holidays ruined by tour companies who cancel group departures because they haven't reached what they may deem to be viable passenger numbers.

According to European tour specialists, Albatross Tours, to encourage bookings and gain the trust of travellers, a growing number of tour operators are skirting around this issue by offering 'Definite Departures'.

Managing Director, Euan Landsborough comments, "As reassuring as this sounds, only a limited percentage of their overall departures attract this apparent 'guarantee' and even those 'definite' departures are by no means certain."

"Travellers who read the fine print will learn that these operators can still cancel a tour at the drop of a hat. When Aussie's have planned a trip half way around the world and parted with their hard earned cash, this is a huge disappointment – not to mention a blow to their hip pocket."

Albatross Tours is one of the few tour operators in the industry who offer totally transparent 'Guaranteed Group Departures'. This means every one of their tours is guaranteed to depart with as few as seven passengers.

When a tour is cancelled due to lack of participation, the travel agent, hotels and other operators all have their businesses affected too. The Albatross Guarantee has secured strong relationships with suppliers who know they can rely on Albatross Tours for this invaluable commitment.

Leanda Blank, a travel agent from West Coast Tours and Travel in Perth knows first-hand how troublesome cancelled tours can be; "We book our clients tours in good faith that they will be departing. I've had as many as 23 passengers cancelled by one tour operator in one year. When tours are cancelled it creates a lot of stress for our clients and is costly exercise for us to rectify. Our repeat business is built on our reputation for being, reliable and easy to book with – when tour operators cancel, it reflects badly on us as a business."

The Hotel Dei Duchi in Spoleto, Italy comments, "It has been wonderful that every departure within two separate tour programs has been fulfilled with Albatross. It is a pleasure to be able to safely welcome our Australian guests and not suffer cancellations."

Travellers should be wary with 'Guaranteed Departures' as the terms and conditions could state there is still a chance that their holiday could be cancelled. The usual condition states it is only guaranteed once a certain number of bookings have been reached.

Euan said, "Albatross is unusual within the industry as we're prepared to underwrite our tours at a loss. We'd rather do this than disappoint not only travellers, but suppliers, agents and hotels too."

"This business strategy has been successful for us in the long term, as we've built valuable relationships with customers, who rely on us when making travel plans."

"Guaranteed Group Departures also mean that travellers can safely book and pay for early bird flights and their tours in advance.

So why do tour operators offer guarantees at all if they don't plan on honouring the promise?

"It gives people a sense of confidence and peace of mind. My advice for travellers is to always read the fine print before booking a tour. The safest option is to choose "Guaranteed Group Departures", which are provided with every Albatross Tour.

For further information about Albatross Tours and upcoming departures, please visit or visit

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The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places