Earlier this month, Pacific Travel Partners, a subsidiary of Australia-based Aurora Expeditions, emerged as the winning bidder to purchase assets from Vantage Travel. At the time it was unclear, whether the company planned to continue operating under the Vantage Travel name or offer the same products.
In a media statement Pacific Travel Partners has now disclosed that it plans to "trade under a new business name."
While details of the new company are still being worked out, previous Vantage clients who paid for but did not receive services (or a refund), can use their "credits" (100% of what they lost) for future travel. However, they may only use credits to pay for up to 50% of each Aurora voyage booked, based on current published brochure pricing. (Full terms and conditions associated with passenger credits are being communicated to affected clients "as soon as possible.")
A team of customer service agents will be put in place to deal with enquiries from affected clients.
Past customers express disappointment, Aurora responds
In the meantime, a group of affected customers have expressed their concern and disappointment with the sale.
"In a recent survey, more than 300 customers indicated that the 'sweetened' sales offer from Aurora Expeditions to purchase the bankrupt Vantage Travel Services is not a sweet deal at all," the group wrote in an open letter to "Media and Travel Trade."
According to the poll, 61% of respondents were displeased and only 2% were pleased. Another 22% indicated that Aurora cruise options were either well out of their price range or were expeditions that exceeded their physical capabilities.
"So much of Vantage business was in river cruises and land expeditions, a segment of business that is extremely limited in Aurora's portfolio," said Robert Hert, who represents nearly 1,000 ex-customers in a Facebook group. "Aurora's pricey offerings don't fit much of Vantage's aging customer profile."
The group asked Pacific Travel Partners and Aurora Expeditions to "generate better options including the opportunity to sell the credits or expand their offerings to better match Vantage's former itineraries."
In response to their request, a spokesperson for Aurora told Travel Market Report, "We are allowing Vantage customers up to five years to use their existing travel credits, at which time they will have the opportunity to apply those to the new company and the new brand under Aurora. We are planning to develop itineraries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Middle East, and the British Isles. More developments on what these new itineraries will include will be announced when finalized."