Finance

Travel company collapses into voluntary administration, with 40 employees and up to 15,000 customers affected

Eloise Keating /

A Gold Coast company that offered “heavily discounted” travel packages to its members has collapsed into voluntary administration and ceased trading.

More than 15,000 members of Australian Escapes could be affected by the business’s collapse, including some who are currently travelling overseas, as well as approximately 40 employees, according to the Gold Coast Bulletin.

However, it appears there could be a chance at least some of these customers will be able to redeem promotional vouchers and continue their existing memberships with a new holiday and travel club enterprise by the end of the month.

Australian Escapes, owned by Accomcorp Pty Ltd, reportedly closed suddenly on March 9.

According to a notice published by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Justin Walsh and Adam Nikitins from Ernst Young were appointed as voluntary administrators of the business on the same day and the first meeting of creditors was held yesterday in Southport, Queensland.

Walsh told SmartCompany this morning the business had “well in excess of 15,000 members” at the time of his appointment and it is “highly unlikely” any of the company’s creditors will be able to recover their debts.

Walsh said his investigations are ongoing but he confirmed all employees of the company are no longer employed by Accomcorp.

He said Australian Escapes operated on a membership basis, with customers paying annual fees to access discounted travel and accomodation.

In a statement last week the Queensland Office of Fair Trading urged travellers that had made bookings with Australian Escapes to verify their bookings with travel and accommodation directly.

“Often when this type of business goes into administration, customers can find their deposits haven’t been processed through to the travel and accommodation providers, leaving them out of pocket and the holiday experience ruined,” said Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer in the statement.

“Consumer who paid by credit card and who have established their payment has not been received by the travel and accommodation provider should contact their bank as soon as possible to see if the charges can be reversed.”

Memberships may carry on under new business

In an update posted on the Australian Escapes website on Friday someone called John Greenbury advised travellers with existing, upcoming reservations with Australian Escapes not the pay any further money into the company’s bank account “as that money will not be used towards your booking”.

Greenbury said he has been assisting as many people as possible to get their money back.

He said a new “holiday and travel club enterprise” is expected to commence trading at the end of March and this enterprise will honour existing memberships, as well as promotional vouchers.

“There is no need to pay any money for membership renewal,” he said.

“You don’t have to do anything, your membership will carry over along with all benefits and will be extended for two years at no charge.”

Greenbury claimed he is not involved in the administration of Australian Escapes and was not a director of the company.

SmartCompany contacted Australian Escapes but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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