The holiday firms Late Rooms and York-based Super Break have collapsed, affecting more than 50,000 travellers.
Malvern Group, which owns the booking website LateRooms.com and Super Break, said about 400 Super Break customers were on holiday in the UK or overseas.
Super Break was a member of Abta and the travel trade body said most customers should be able to get a refund. It added that those already away should be able to continue with their holiday as normal.
The two companies had about 53,000 customers between them, involving 20,000 bookings, with most holidaymakers yet to start their trips.
“The majority of customers are yet to travel and in most cases they should be able to obtain a refund, either through Abta or another financial protection scheme, depending on the type of booking,” Abta said. “The vast majority of holidaymakers’ arrangements will be covered.”
However, people who booked accommodation-only through Super Break are being asked to pay again because Malvern Group has cancelled those bookings and only package trips are financially covered through Abta.
“If you are currently on a break, you may be asked to pay again,” Malvern Group said.
Andrea Newton tweeted that Crowne Plaza in King’s Cross in London was asking Super Break customers to pay again or leave the hotel.
A representative of IHG, the parent company of the Crowne Plaza chain, responded to say they would look into the matter.
“Super Break produced a hotel-only brochure that displayed the Abta logo,” Graeme Brett of Westoe Travel told Travel Weekly. “It would seem many agents and customers were misled by the extent of the cover Super Break had chosen to take with Abta.”
Malvern Group, which has shut its customer contact centre, also said Super Break holidaymakers who had bought gift vouchers would not be able to use them.
Late Rooms, which is not an Abta member, said it did not take payments directly from customers and that it anticipated that bookings with accommodation suppliers were secure.
“LateRooms.com acted as an agent on behalf of your accommodation supplier, therefore we anticipate that your reservation is secure,” the company said in a statement to customers. “We recommend, however, that you contact your accommodation supplier directly prior to travelling to confirm.”
Super Break and LateRooms continued to drum up business only hours before the companies ceased trading. Late on Wednesday, Late Rooms tweeted that it was “never too late for a cheeky weekend up in Manchester”.
Malvern Group, which employs about 253 staff in Manchester and York, said it had appointed KPMG as administrators.
“This is a devastating blow for all of our wonderful employees who have invested so much time and effort into building Malvern, its brands and trips technology platform,” said Hugo Kimber, the executive chairman. “This is equally difficult for all our suppliers, partners and customers who will be impacted by this news.”
KPMG said 43 staff have been retained in back office roles such as IT support and administration while it seeks a buyer for the business.
“Coming in the midst of the summer holidays, we understand this news will be of grave concern to LateRooms.com and Super Break customers who have future bookings with the group,” said Tracey Pye, joint administrator at KPMG.
“We continue to invite offers for the business, and would urge any interested parties to make their interest known as soon as possible.”
The company blamed the financial woes of Cox & Kings, the Indian tour operator that owns a 49% stake in Malvern Group, for forcing it out of business.
“Following news of Cox & Kings India’s loan default a month ago, the situation has deteriorated rapidly, resulting in the withdrawal of any further funding for Malvern Group,” the company said in a statement.
In a statement to the Bombay stock exchange earlier this week, Cox & Kings – a separate company to the UK business of the same name – said it was “working closely with its lenders to optimise its asset base globally and bring the situation back to normal as soon as possible”.