Small Fish Big Ocean

Helping specialist tour operators and activity providers with travel ecommerce

Hi everyone

Does anyone have details of Merchant Facility Providers that are actually providing services to smaller companies in the Travel Industry. We are presently using Voice Commerce who presently retain 5% of our takings for 6months. I understand their terms will be changing next week and may look to retain 10% which could make cash flow tricky! We are now a very successful Tour Operator that has grown hugely in the last 3 years and takes just over 60% of its taking this way. As we do primarily tailor-made holidays, we dont want to integrate the payment system into our website, we just want a virtual terminal.

Having spoken to a another Merchant  Facility Provider yesterday, it seems like Tour Operators and Travel Agents are now being seen as very high risk - the Bank they deal with are bringing this in next month and will therefore not even ask me to submit an application as they wont even consider it.

We actually have a very good record - we have never had to do a refund for a cancellation so this is a little disheartening to be lumped together with companies that are not doing as well as us. 

Any help would be greatly received.

Many thanks

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Nick - sorry to hear that.

You could become TTA members in order to get the merchant facilities. Or if you have a profitable business with at least 2 years accounts (and your turnover is at least 100k) you can apply for TOPP. They are not taking on new businesses but are taking on businesses with a trading history.

I just called them to double check.

They did on the phone say the merchant facilities are no longer with Streamline. Guess this is linked to RBS and travel. But if they'll accept you as a member, merchant facilities are virtually guaranteed and you wouldn't have the cashflow issue.

I don't know if you do any flight inclusive but if you do, then you're ok on that front as they have a franchise deal with the CAA.



We used to be with TTA but the trust account was difficult to manage as we have to pay our chalet owners before the client goes on holiday but we are reconsidering!!. However we are already with ABTOT which is affiliated already to Travel and General who arrange our bond and we pay over £15k per year for our bond and it was them who put us in touch with First Data!! So I really don't know why we are paying £15k per year for a bond and now despite being profitable being penalised to such an extent to make it unworkable to stay in business   - its mind boggling to say the least but I am glad I have found this site!





Ah. Would Travel & General be willing for you to move across to TOPP?

The TTA is not as cumbersome as it used to be on cashflow because of Fidelity plus. It is paperwork to get suppliers set up + there is a extra charge per passenger on Fidelity plus, but we find it worth it.

I will take a look at that - I do feel perhaps its a horrible dream or they have made a gross error





Nick hi - I have been with T&G under their TOPP scheme since we started out 4 years ago - and Voice Pay (their recommendation following Streamline's lunatic term demands last year), did also start to make ridiculous revised terms and conditions when we had been with them a matter of weeks.  We have no borrowings, have always made a profit and grown in a stable and sensible fashion so we share other members frustration and disbelief in relation to proposed Merchant terms 

We are now with First Data who I found through Federation of Small Business who do hold onto 100% of our funds, but release them in full after 6 weeks, so the cash flow implication is much less than other players out there.  So far they have been excellent and indeed their percentage charge is considerably less than Voice Commerce.

I wrote to my local MP some weeks ago about this because I too cannot imagine that Mr Cameron will be too impressed at the effective strangulation of exactly the type of business needed to assist drag the country back from the brink.... needless to say I am yet to hear back !  My feeling is that we are picking up the pieces from some of the conmen who have used travel to make a fast and dishonest buck in the past..... Rant over - it really does make me SO cross though !!!

Is the First Data deal linked to the FSB? 

I don't think I'd get anything out of my MP.. he doesn't even do surgeries! I wonder if the likes of FSB are doing any lobbying. I could get access to a minister who may be able to help though my business club, but the other members aren't are in travel. 

By the way, whilst I'm sure travel has attracted conmen, I think there's a lot more to it than that. None of the businesses I know personally who went under were conmen, (I don't know about the larger ones like XL). It's just been tough trading conditions, particularly if companies aren't constantly agile. I also think some travel companies aren't aware of how much risk they actually take on, until something happens which bites them.

So agree Alison - it is all very frustrating.  I have complained to First Data about the rates of interest charged today - but under the circumstances perhaps we are still relatively lucky...??

Hi Nick,


I have been reading your posts with great interest.


We may be able to offer an alternative solution to the options mentioned in this thread.


Protected Travel Services provide merchant facilities via HSBC with a 100% success rate to both new and already established businesses in the UK.


Although the financial protection we offer is in the form of a trust account, we are able to provide insurances against supplier failure allowing you to pay your suppliers earlier than the consumer departure date whilst still financially protecting their funds and freeing up cash flow.


We also provide you with additional services such as back office software (with full training) and cost cutting administration services which may allow you to save on in-house admin costs.


Please come back to me with any questions you may have.




Kris Hall

Business Development Manager

Protected Travel Services

T: 01202 753431



Hi Sue,

I know it's been a while since the last posting but if you're still having problems there is a solution with the TTA (Travel Trust Association).

We secure merchant facilities for our members without any securities or deferrals at very low cost.

Happy to discuss this further at your convenience.

Kind regards,

Matt Skilton

(01483) 545787




Has anyone heard or used this company

They seem to work with high risk companies.




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