Zuji’s failure to fulfil its payment obligations for airline ticket sales and an abrupt suspension of booking functions are fuelling rumours that the OTA may be in trouble, although there has been no official word of any cessation of business.
When approached for comment, IATA’s spokesperson Albert Tjoeng said that Zuji’s participation in IATA’s Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) had been suspended in November “as the company had infringed on its payment obligations for airline ticket sales”.
He added: “Discussions are underway to reinstate Zuji’s participation in the BSP once repayment conditions are met.”
An online travel company disclosed to TTG Asia that it has not received payment from Zuji for advertising on its website, and has on Tuesday evening received an email from Zuji Hong Kong notifying that the OTA would be “taken offline” due to the “tight deadline for the new website development”.
Meanwhile, Zuji Hong Kong will not be taking any new orders to minimise the migration risk, and it is aiming to launch its new website in early 1Q of 2019, the OTA wrote in the email.
At press time, both Zuji Hong Kong and Singapore sites redirect to the same landing page about a new site to come.
As a member of Society of IATA Passenger Agents (SIPA), Zuji Hong Kong has not formally informed the association of any suspension of business, according to honorary treasurer Tommy Tam.
Tam said: “There are rumours and I understand its website was down (since Wednesday) night. What surprised me is its advertisement is still up and running. Still, I have no idea what is happening to this OTA but something must be happening.
“Generally speaking, OTAs generate high growth of business but yield and rate of investment does not proportionally reflected given other incurred costs like marketing fees and IT investment. Competition is fierce.”
At press time, the Travel Industry Council (TIC) had not received any complaints regarding delay of payment to suppliers or issue of air tickets with regard to Zuji Hong Kong.
TIC’s executive director, Alice Chan, told TTG Asia: “We have enquired with Zuji Hong Kong this morning. They said they have suspended only their sales service. Their customer service team is still operating and their website will resume service anytime.”
This writer earlier made a call to Zuji Hong Kong’s customer hotline, which was answered by an overseas customer service personnel claiming to be unaware of the issue. He walked the writer through the booking process, which came to naught, and he then told the writer to report the issue to senior management.
Subsequent calls were made to Zuji Hong Kong’s corporate line over last few days but in vain.
Additional reporting by Pamela Chow