A timeline of Excite Holidays
In fact back in December 2018, a Travel Daily “Year in Review” item which mentioned Excite’s loss of accreditation in the same story as a summary of the then extremely fresh Bestjet collapse, drew a swift response from Excite’s solicitors, claiming a “malicious attempt to impugn the reputation of our client” and threatening to sue for damages. We were put on notice to “not suggest that Excite Holidays is in any way similar to Bestjet Pty Ltd, or is likely to go into administration”. A year on and how things have changed. Excite has indeed been placed into voluntary administration, and while the scale of the collapse is yet to be fully determined, the Administrator, Morgan Kelly from KPMG, has estimated the company owes as much as $35 million to lenders, travel agents, suppliers and various overseas entities.
Many agents, who trusted assurances from Excite Holidays that ATAS accreditation was irrelevant, have been left with furious customers, debts worth thousands of dollars and an extremely bitter taste in their mouths. Although things became very serious over the Christmas period, it’s now becoming apparent that Excite had been in trouble for some time. Clients began arriving at hotels to find their bookings had not been paid for, with Excite blaming a “platform issue” for the problems. The company continued to accept new bookings right up to the day before its directors appointed KPMG as Voluntary Administrators, denied repeated claims about unpaid wages in its Bangkok and Athens offices, and even told its local BDMS to have an extra week’s Christmas holiday and to turn their phones off so they didn’t have to take calls from frustrated travel agents.
Even when bookings were closed off on Thursday 9 January, Stavropolous told staff it was because of “discussions with potential investors”. At the same time, Virtual Credit Cards used to secure bookings, were being denied due to a lack of available funds, and incredibly agents were just told to get their clients to pay again and “lodge a service complaint” with Excite to request a refund. Then just 24 hours later, on 10 January, it was all over. Morgan Kelly, Philip Quinlan and Amanda Coneyworth from the Sydney office of accounting firm KPMG were appointed as administrators of five Australian companies: Global Travel Specialists Pty Limited, Global Travel Holdings Pty Limited, Excite Holidays (Australia) Pty Limited, Events NG Pty Limited and Travel Serv Co Pty Limited.