37935914 - 01_04_2016 - altravel02
A note outside S Travel’s office said that it has ceased operations “due to unforeseen reasons”(Photo: SPH/ST)

Holidays are an exciting time for all of us, and no matter where we are going on our trip; we all look forward to our weeks away. As travel plans are sometimes made months in advance, there is always a small risk that by the time the holiday comes around, the tour company may have run into financial problems or even ceased operating completely.

The most recent, of S Travels, closed down its operations, leaving 300 people stranded and rudely shocked. Many had paid thousands of dollars for their package tours. And now, they would have to start another round of process of making claims in the hope of getting their money back.

Protecting your Savings

Is there any way to safeguard yourself from a similar situation? The truth is, you can be better prepared with the right information. So, before you go ahead and book that exclusive holiday, bear in mind these pointers:

  1. Pick a reputable travel agent. Sometimes, spending just a little more and going with an established travel agent especially one who is accredited with NATAS would make more sense. Chances of them folding over may be slimmer when compared to other small-time agents.
  2. Payments. Do not pay the full amount upfront. Make a deposit and insist on proof of flight tickets and accommodation details, before paying the balance.
  3. Insurance. Buy your own insurance policy that covers such emergencies. Do not depend on your travel agency for this. Some fraudulent agents may even pocket the money you’ve paid for the insurance. In this instance, it pays to be ‘kiasu’.
  4. Documentation. Keep all your receipts and documentation in case you need to produce them as proof, especially when you want to make a claim or file a complaint.
  5. File a report. When all your measures fail, and the tour company folds, make a report with your insurance company as well as with the Small Claims Tribunal. This would be your best bet on getting your money back, if not all, at least part of the money you paid.