HOTELIERS are calling on coach-tour companies to "get their houses in order" and adopt better payment practices.
Concerns that current systems leave businesses vulnerable to non-payment were sparked by the liquidation earlier this year of Scottish tour operator MacKenzie River Travel.
Andrew Machen-Young, proprietor of the Claymore House and Windsor hotels in Nairn, Scotland, who was owed £5,000 by MacKenzie, is behind a campaign to draw up a code of practice for tour companies. "Some expect excessive credit. Gone are the days when we can take them at face value," he said.
But he conceded that there were obvious difficulties in making demands of companies that provide hotels with a large amount of business: "We're not going to tell the big boys there's no deal unless they pay up front."
Myrah MacPherson, general manager of the Jarvis Caledonian hotel in Inverness, said hotels had to be flexible. "Handling agents do not always get paid in advance, but if there is a serious danger that a company has become tardy in payment, we need to be tougher," she said.
The British Hospitality Association said it was aware of some hoteliers losing out to unscrupulous operators. "We would welcome any initiative to sort it out," said deputy chief executive Martin Couchman.
Les Bradley, spokesman for the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said hotels should make rigorous checks with new companies and ensure tour companies are bonded to protect consumers. "This doesn't protect the hotels, but it shows that the company follows the correct procedures," he said.
by Christina Golding