Are you a package travel company, or even just offering stays to your clients?

With Thomas Cook sadly going under yesterday, it had me thinking of all those poor holidaymakers that are currently abroad or having their prebooked holidays cancelled and how upsetting a time this is, but how glad they must be that they are fully protected under the ATOL scheme which Thomas Cook were luckily a part of..

But what happens if they weren’t? What if it was your business?

Consumers are protected in many ways with certain rights against unfair trading tactics and rules, however if a company goes bust, they don’t have a legal entity to claim against or sue to get their money back. So consumers are put in the awkward position of waiting until the company is fully wound up to receive, at best, a percentage of the money they are owed.

However, in the case of package travel, consumers must be fully protected from such things happening due to the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 they require businesses to fully protect your clients’ holiday investment ensuring that they don’t lose out if the worst happens.

But you don’t offer package holidays?

The key wording that the regulation has used leaves many different interpretations to be true, although you may or may not be offering a flight and hotel to your customers; you offer arrangements which are linked. Linked travel arrangements can be anything from your standard flight + hotel, to any mixture of accommodation, food, travel, activities, training or excursions which means many ‘retreats’ and even some day trips could fall into this category.

Now you know you’re selling a package holiday – what do you need to do?

  • You must first provide full information of what is included in their package: the dates, the price, the destination, cancellation fees and any other relevant information
  • You must then provide a full contract once the booking has been confirmed, detailing their consumer rights and all the agreed upon details from the original information
  • You must be able to provide all the agreed aspects of the package (crazy, I know!) If for any reason the trip may not be able to go ahead you must notify your customers in advance of the potential risks – maybe there is a minimum number of participants?
  • Should anything go wrong you must be able to provide an alternative to their original booking that is the same or a better standard than what they had booked. If the booking changes significantly, or is more than 8% different than what they had agreed, you must essentially ‘requote’ the package, allowing them to cancel without detriment (even if you are unable to regain monies for parts already booked).
  • You must put in place compliant insolvency cover in case you become the next Thomas Cook, and your customers are not protected as you are not ATOL covered.

Our advice to business owners?

Comply with the above, check out the full guidance in the link below, get a proper contract in place to cover you fully (we’re biased we know), and get in touch if you have any questions!

Our advice to consumers?

Ensure you are careful with who you book with, certain booking agents will claim to be just this, and that you must enter into contracts directly with suppliers. Ensure you read all the documentation carefully when it is sent to you and that you are happy with it before you sign on the dotted line.

Check your contracts before you Thomas Cook it!