How do I write a complaint letter to my travel company?

We're in a great position to advise you on what to include in your complaint letter, as we deal with nearly 20,000 complaints every year. Below you will find some tips and templates for writing an effective letter which we hope will assist in a positive outcome.

We’ve found that a good structured letter with headings and bullet points tend to produce a better outcome, as your travel company can identify your complaint immediately, and has a good understanding on how you'd like to resolve it.

All letters should be friendly, concise, factual and above all constructive. Remember the old saying “less is more”. Put yourself in the position of the person receiving the letter of complaint they will read your letter and respond accordingly, either by letter, email or phone call. Remember they are doing their job to the best of their abilities and you want them to respond to your letter positively. You may feel angry, but being confrontational does not help in reaching an amicable settlement which is agreeable to both sides.

Letter structure

  1. Be friendly – be considerate and point out the positives and negatives. The reader will respond positively and will be willing to help.
  2. Be concise, keep it short but to the point and whatever you do don’t ramble or labour the point – letters and emails written in this format can be understood quickly.
  3. Be factual, keep to the point – letters and emails should be written in a way that the reader can immediately deal with the relevant points. Stay away from quotes such as “holiday from hell”, “worst holiday of my life”, they serve no purpose and do not help. The company will be aware that you’re not happy, for the very simple reason that you’ve written to them.
  4. Be constructive – give positive statements and make positive suggestions, this will normally encourage action and quicker decisions. If you are seeking compensation be realistic, fair and reasonable. Tell them what you are looking for, if you don’t the company will not know and although they’ll respond they aren’t mind readers and it will prolong matters.

Be clear

Most complaints can be resolved after the first letter but you must help the reader to understand what you are after, if you just want an apology, state it. We find that a lot of cases we deal with have got to a stage where both parties cannot reach an amicable conclusion, purely because the amount being requested is unrealistic for the problems encountered or that the complainant has not stated what they feel is fair. Don’t ask for a full refund if you’re not expecting it. The chances are you’re unlikely to get a full refund even if you pursue it through the courts or at arbitration.

Remember, that the company would like you to travel with them again to prove that the problems you encountered were isolated and therefore may offer you a credit voucher to be used against the cost of a future holiday. Don’t be unreasonable, you’ll find you’re likely to get a higher amount by the way of a credit voucher rather than a monetary settlement.

Remember, that people working in a customer focused department receive far more letters than most of us receive in a year. Realistically, the letters that are read fully are the ones that are concise and compact and don’t ramble. No one wants to receive a 16 page letter when it can be summarised on one side of A4.

Threatening people either in writing, in person or by phone does not produce good results. A friendly approach goes a long way and the travel company really will want to try and keep you as a loyal customer, one who will use their services for years to come, so they will try and help as much as they can. The person responding to you did not cause the problem and they are the ones that are there to help you, treat them as your ally and they will do everything they can to resolve your complaint.

And finally be objective, what’s happened has happened. Sometimes things happen through no one’s fault, but the main thing is to find how it can be resolved. Some humour can often work as it breaks down any conflict and can create a cooperative impression.

One last thing, keep copies of your letters and the replies, in the unlikely event you can’t reach settlement or the matter has not been explained to your satisfaction you may need them later.

  • Complaint