New Comtec software released to keep firms on right side of law

Travel technology supplier Comtec has launched software to ensure travel firms can comply with new Atol Certificate requirements from October 1.

TravelCert+ is the first piece of software the Cwmbran-based firm has designed as a standalone product outside of its core applications.

The firm says it will look to product more new products in this way as it continues to re-establish itself in the travel technology sector following a management buyout last year.

Comtec claimed TravelCert+ is the only fully automated solution available to travel firms which after October 1 will be breaking the law if they do not supply customers with a form.

Certificates must be issued as soon as they take any money from the client so systems must be updated to produce the right documentation when deposits are paid.

There are concerns that, despite the deadline for this being extended by the Civil Aviation Authority to October from April, many firms systems’ are not yet ready.

Jon Pickles, Comtec product director, said TravelCert+ will automatically determine what sort of Atol certificate the customer should be presented with, although this feature can be overridden.

There are three certificates; one for sales of package holidays, one for flight-only and one for Flight-Plus – any sale of a flight with a significant other element like accommodation or car hire.

The certificates set out clearly what consumer protection the customer has through the Atol scheme and the forms must adhere to a strict format designed by the CAA.

Customers can either be given them in person or sent a pdf if the transaction takes place online and TravelCert+ includes functionality to do this.

Pickles said the project had been completed in a short time frame from April and it has been running roadshows and workshops for agents last month.

“This is the first time we have written software not inside any of our main applications. It’s a standalone service fully hosted by us,” he said.

“In the past we have never been proactive in this way. We did not have any customers asking for this back in April but we identified it as something that was needed and it went from there.

“We have been working on this with the CAA. We have had challenges and some of the rules have changed but our job is to make sure it’s compliant and that’s part of the service.”

Pickles added: “TravelCert+ is accessible from any of our reservations system applications or anyone can sign up to utilise our certificate generation through an API.

“A lot of people want this for their websites so they can throw a booking at it and it deconstructs that booking and says you need a certificate of that type.”

Comtec is expecting each Atol booking to require the generation of at least two certificates as when changes or updates are made a new form must be produced.

Firms pay an upfront licence fee to use the software which covers the number of certificates they will have to produce and Pickles said the cost has been kept low from 15p per certificate.

Travel companies producing a large number of certificates are able to access a deal based on volume.

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