Abta fees to rise by 7% but some members to pay more or less

Abta has increased its membership rates by 7% – but a change to how subscriptions are calculated mean some will pay more or less than the ‘headline’ figure.

Travel Weekly has been told that some agents face rises that are more than twice the 7% rate based on their turnover in the past year of trading.

However, the association said that around a third of members would pay less overall as a result of reverting to pre-pandemic methods of assessing members’ businesses.

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In a letter to members from Abta head of membership Danny Waine, the association explained that its board – comprised of Abta members – had decided to increase member subscription rates by 7% for the 2024-2025 membership year.

Waine explained in the letter: “For the first time since the pandemic, and with all members able to have submitted a year’s worth of accounts in a post-pandemic trading environment, we have reverted to our usual process of applying the current rates broadly in proportion to a member’s size of turnover.

“Last year, this was not possible and so, for consistency and fairness, at the time we calculated each member’s subscription fee on the basis of their most recent pre-pandemic accounts.

“For this reason, and depending on your change in turnover, you may find that your invoice has changed by a different proportion to the ‘headline’ 7% rate.”

Waine told Travel Weekly: “By reverting to using the latest submitted annual turnover from members, one third will actually have a lower total subscriptions payment than last year, with only those with the highest increase in turnover since the pandemic having the highest increase in their subscription payment.

“We believe this is a fair approach to deciding the contribution each member makes.

“Abta’s work on behalf of its members is as vital as ever before.”

He added: “The environment in which this decision has been made is one of strengthening brand reputation, along with the provision of services that help members run their business, and a year of focus on member priorities such as education and training, sustainability and youth mobility.”

The association also pointed out that the board’s decision for this year also should be seen in relation to its decision during the pandemic to reduce subscription levels by 50%.

It meant that Abta had to take £3 million from its reserves to plug the gap and, so, subsequently incur a loss.

To minimise the impact on members coming out of the pandemic, it was also agreed to recoup this money over an extended period, and the board is following a managed path to return to a break-even position so as not to increase subscription levels unduly quickly. The managed path includes a continued focus on reducing expenditure.

“Our research with members shows that the numbers repaying government-backed loans are now a minority,” it added.

Members must pay their renewal fee in full on July 1.

Last year, several Abta members criticised Abta for hiking its fees by 8.5%, saying the increase did not take into account the post-Covid pressures many were still facing.

The association said at the time that this increase was below inflation, adding: “We are not immune from inflationary pressures ourselves meaning that a smaller increase in subscription rates is not possible if we are to continue providing the services which members tell us they want.”

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