Guest post: Tribal trouble

May 27th, 2014 | | industry

Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 5.47.07 PM

Dear Editor,

I don’t have all the answers but I do know people are suffering and that our industry is being damaged when a travel agent can shut down one business, leaving massive debts owed to his suppliers and other operators in the tourism industry. Then immediately opens another similar business offering the product of those same tourism operators and without their permission.

For many tour operators it raises the question, why the bloody hell am I in this industry.

… And then I get a post tour comment like this:

„I had an amazing time! The tour was absolutely fantastic and so was our guide! There’s no single wow moment, though the top of Frenchman’s peak, sunrise over the bight, and shark cage diving would have to be the Top 3. Would recommend this company and the tour to everyone! Not many operators let you email the boss then have a beer with him around the fire!”

… these comments remind me why we are in business and why we love this industry!

So it is with a heavy heart and a combination of disappointment, disgust and anger that I write my first ever letter to the Editor.  I am riled by the way Tribal Travel have closed owing many many $1,000s to many people: his own agents, operators like me and customers and seemingly gotten away with it – this is just wrong.

To add salt to a wound, it is my understanding that the owner of Tribal Travel is now trading under another brand ( with no contractual arrangements with me or my product and yet is able to offer my product for sale at 15+ % below my recommended retail price, thereby undermining my existing contractual relationships.

Excuse the language but that is bullshit – and its bullshit on many levels.

  1. Branch travel agents that sold tourism product under the umbrella of Tribal Travel have been hurt big time … for many of them it has forced closure or they are dealing with customer complaints. For some agents, that I know personally, that means taking out personal loans just to cover unpaid debts left by Tribal Travel.
  2. Tour operators have been stung too, by not being paid for past tours and now we have customers with open vouchers rocking up on our doors seeking a tour, for which we know we won’t get paid … and yet it certainly isn’t the customer’s fault. So do we take these customers knowing that we will not get paid or say sorry, we cannot accept your vouchers, talk to Tribal Travel, who we know are now insolvent and unavailable.
  3. Finally and most importantly, customers are hurting, so what are we doing to our industry? Our passengers travel to Australia for a „once in a life time experience” to find out what makes Australia the Number One most desired destination to visit in the world. And then Tribal Travel shafts them, gone of the days when this went on in secret, social media now means this is all over the internet in hours, doing irreparable damage to our international reputation.

I certainly don’t have the full answer but as an industry we should not be complacent about this – we should (somehow) engage an agency to collect information from operators, tally up the amount owing and then hand it to a legal professional. Say go for it on a pro bono basis, no  win no charge and give the company that is prepared to take it on a heavy % of all funds recovered received.

That is still better for me and most operators because as at least we will get something!

Hassie – Owner/Operator
Nullarbor Traveller and
Australian Wildlife Adventures!

4 Responses

  1. Tim Grigg says:

    Great work Hassie. Peter Holiday (Tribal Travel) owes me $3000, never spoken to him, he won’t reply to calls or emails. Add my name to your list but I suspect the money is long gone.

  2. Chris says:

    Dear Peter I have been in contract with you 3:years ago. With the former mates rates tours. I am reopening my business solo and have a lot of interest already as I have promoted my business all over the world.

    I realize Erin maybe still involved with you. However I would be happy to welcome you onboard. My business is in suburbs. Greater opportunity and more opportunity. I’m in Cairns. Please phone 0477309940 Chris.

  3. whitsundays tours says:

    awesome site

  4. Nice and interesting post. thank you for sharing this information with us.