707 Travel Services taken to court
707 Travel Services, the third travel agency to close down this year, taken to court yesterday
Yet another travel agency has called it quits.
707 Travel Services, located at Golden Mile Tower at Beach Road, closed down in March, and its boss was declared bankrupt.
The now-defunct agency was taken to the High Court by DBS Bank over non-payment of loans yesterday.
The bank was seeking to liquidate the company's assets to meet repayment obligations.
707 is the third travel agency to shut its doors this year.
In May, Asia-Euro Holidays, located at Chinatown Point, suddenly closed down, leaving customers and staff in shock.
The tour agency was believed to have run up losses of about $2 million from its property investments.
At least 500 customers were affected by the agency's sudden closure.
The second agency was A D Travel, which was suspended in July after failing to meet the minimum financial requirements mandated under the Travel Agents Regulations.
According to the Consumers Association Of Singapore (Case), it has received feedback on the closure of eight travel agencies between 2013 and 2014.
To recover what was paid to such agencies, its executive director Seah Seng Choon said: "Affected consumers should file a proof of debt with the appointed liquidator as soon as possible."
He said consumers who are unsure about the process can seek help from Case.
Adjunct Associate Professor Lynda Wee from Nanyang Technological University's Nanyang Business School told The New Paper that with technology easily available, online platforms have "put power in the travellers' hands".
She said online portals such as Booking.com, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor make it easy for the traveller to compare and buy.
"We can design and execute our own holiday plans," she said.
Also eating into the businesses of travel agencies are the self-drive holidays.
"The services (at travel agencies) are no longer unique. These can be done by travellers with a click of the mouse.
"At the same time, these agencies did not add new services like concierge or organise for small group travel," Prof Wee said.
But while it is true that the rise of online bookings has taken over parts of the traditional travel and tours business, there is still plenty that travel agents can do.
Prof Wee said to survive, travel agencies can band together and offer better value, such as developing more personalised services.
"They can offer local knowledge, organise hassle-free and safe customised travels that tailor to travellers' needs ... by offering a one-stop shop in travel - from food to car rental," she said.