Why Book With An ABTA-approved School Travel Provider?

ABTA are reminding teachers of the importance of booking their school trips abroad with specialist school travel companies approved by ABTA. A January statement from ABTA has reiterated the criteria Party Leaders should be seeking, including the quality of support, protection and expertise. We look at the messages from ABTA and the expectations of parents when permitting their child to join their peers on a school trip abroad.

New findings from research conducted by Arkenford Ltd on behalf of the Travel Association (ABTA) has found that nearly three quarters (73%) of UK families expect a company that organises school travel to be an ABTA member. The motivation for this research came after a school in Kent lost tens of thousands of pounds after pupils had raised money to fund a package trip to Mount Kilimanjaro only to see parents lose out to the company arranging the expedition collapsing financially.

Party Leader wearing yellow jacket

As an ABTA-approved travel company, bookings with Travelbound allow teachers to utilise the company’s expertise, specialist knowledge and insight to organise a memorable educational experience. The accreditation also means that booking with an ABTA-approved travel company sees schools have access to 24-hour crisis support and ABTA advice. Where everything from travel services to accommodation and excursions need to be considered, booking with Travelbound provides the greatest overall protection.

‘Many schools are unaware they may be liable if they organise the travel arrangements themselves.’ ABTA, January 2019

Under the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs), an ABTA-approved travel company is responsible for sorting out any problems and ensuring that an alternative is offered or a full refund provided in the event the trip cannot go ahead. ABTA have also highlighted that if a travel company goes out of business before the trip starts, pupils will get their money back and, where the trip included transport, will be brought home at no additional cost if they are already away.

Something very few teachers know concerns schools seeking to organise a school trip by themselves and the implications of going off their own back. By arranging their own bookings for transport, accommodation and other services, schools might be liable under the PTRs. This means that they would face all of the responsibilities of a travel company – both legal and financial.

ABTA’s Director of Brand and Business Development, Victoria Bacon has commented on the importance of booking with an ABTA-approved travel company saying: “School trips provide pupils with lifelong memories and often an opportunity to explore a place they’ve never been to before. However, it can be a time consuming and sometimes daunting process for teachers to arrange these trips, and the new Package Travel Regulations means that if a trip is booked in a certain way, the school could be held liable should there be a problem.

“There are lots of ABTA school travel specialist companies who can take these responsibilities off the hands of teachers and pull together a trip which provides a great education experience as well as offering the support, protection and expertise that comes with booking with an ABTA-approved travel company.

“With this peace of mind teachers can travel with confidence, knowing their students are in good hands and able to enjoy their travel experience to the full.”

All School Travel Forum (STF) Members, which is a professional trade association for school travel, are required to be ABTA Members.

Commenting on behalf of the School Travel Forum, Gill Harvey has said: “While organising a school trip can be seen by some education providers as stressful and time consuming, there are ways to streamline the process and recruit third party help to ensure the trip runs smoothly.

“Research shows that travel helps children to develop their sense of independence, experience new cultures and bond with their classmates. Booking with an STF Member, which is also an ABTA Member, will provide teachers and parents alike with the confidence of a safe and successful trip.”

Close-up of Party Leader on plane

ABTA’s top tips for arranging a school trip:

1. Reassure parents with careful planning and clear communication throughout the trip, from the point of booking to the moment of return.

2. Check the Foreign Commonwealth Office Travel Advice for the country you intend to visit at an early stage of planning for the trip, as well as closer to the departure date. The advice can be found at: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

3. Ensure that all those travelling have adequate travel insurance. Check that any specific or unusual activities are covered.

4. Check passport and visa requirements well in advance. Ensure that everyone has a valid passport and that they have enough time left on them before they expire. Some countries require a minimum of six months’ time prior to expiry.

5. Ask to see your chosen tour operator’s health and safety credentials and check they acknowledge the importance of maintaining these standards throughout the trip.

6. Book arrangements with an ABTA Member to benefit from the protection, support and expertise they provide.

To find out more about school trips to China, or to start planning your next adventure, contact the Travelbound team on 01273 244 572 or contact us online.