In this section
This element of ‘Best Practice’ concerns the statutory information that must be provided in a clear, comprehensible and prominent manner to consumers before making a package holiday booking. I have given a brief explanation below and will then provide the exact requirements from the Regulations. So, let’s start with the relevant Schedules in the 2018 PTRs:
Schedule 1 information requirements in the Regulations would be covered in any brochure description and in our view the information would be discussed during the sales process, complementing the brochure description.
Schedule 2 information will not be a problem as it relates to website sales where links can be used to provide consumers with their ‘key rights’ (this is contained in Part 1 of Schedule 2)
Schedule 3, Part 2, again talks of Key Rights information. This is where the problems occur as they relate to Travel Agents (shop sales) and Telephone sales, where the consumer’s ‘Key Rights’ must be explained BEFORE the booking is made. Part 1 relates to the protection and Part 3, the copy of the actual Regulations’
Schedule 5 highlights the information to be provided in the Package Travel Contract after the booking has been made (the Confirmation Invoice).
What follows is the practical situation of a website sale, high street Agent (shop) sale and a telephone sale.
Website sales The website can be designed to provide all the Schedule 1 information and provide links to the Standard Information, ‘Key Facts’ (in Schedule 3), with the link to the actual Regulations: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/634/contents/made
High street Agent (shop) sales The ‘Key Rights’ could be laminated and provided for the consumer before making the sale or the basic information could be read out to the consumer. Looking at the situation practically, the simplest solution would be for the consumer to be directed to the information in the brochure or website, especially the protection details in the new 2018 PTRs. As explained above, the information in Schedule 1 would be discussed in the process of the sale.
Telephone sales The sales discussion should be able to highlight the basic Schedule 1 information, which could be emailed to the consumer during the sales process or reference made to the Organiser/Principal’s brochure or website. Then we come to the ‘Key Facts’. Access to their website and direction as to where the legal information can be found is one possibility, or an email highlighting the information, while the consumer is on the phone and told to refer to, is another.
The Confirmation invoice is also required to contain specific information relating to the package travel contract. A way of ensuring the relevant information is provided could be to ensure that the basic details should be accompanied by the Organiser/Principal’s ‘Booking Conditions’, which meet the requirements of the 2018 PTRs.
So now on to the exact information required and stated in the 2018 PTRs:
Schedule 1 (see above): As stated above, this is the information to be provided to the consumer, where applicable, before the conclusion of the package travel contract. If queried by consumers, we suggest you initially provide a comment:
“The Information requirements in the Regulations will be covered in our online or brochure description and this information will, in addition, be discussed during the sales process, complementing the online or brochure description”.
One of the most important issues is the insolvency protection information. The 2018 PTRs also require that, before the consumer enters into a contract to buy a package holiday, the consumer must be given standard information about the protection provided by the Regulations.
If the information in Schedule 1 is not applicable, then it does not have to be included. For example, if there are no meals included in the package and it is clear from the context that no meals are included and there is no suggestion anywhere that meals are included, the explicit information ‘no meal’ would not have to be given.
Schedule 2 (see above): Providing the required information for website sales:
The provision of information in sales from a website are much easier.
Part 1 This provides for general information provided by the website.
Part 2 This lists the key rights under the Regulations and can be provided by a link. There are 12 Key Rights stated and these must be clearly stated on the website
Part 3 This is purely the need to send a link to the Regulations,
For bookings where it is possible to use links on the website, the consumer must be given the following information with a link through to the further information required on key rights: “The combination of travel services offered to you is a package within the meaning of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations. Therefore, you will benefit from all EU rights applying
In addition, the Organiser of the package must indicate protection is in place to refund the consumer payments and, where transport is included in the package, to ensure their repatriation if it becomes insolvent. More information on key rights under Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 can be found in Schedule 2 of the regulations: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/634/schedule/2/made
Shop and phone bookings
Where the use of links is not possible, for example in a shop or call centre, the consumer must be given the following information:
The combination of travel services offered to you is a package within the meaning of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations. Therefore, you will benefit from all EU rights applying to packages. We will be fully responsible for the proper performance of the package.
Additionally, as required by law, we have protection in place to refund your payments and, where transport is included in the package, to ensure your repatriation if they become insolvent. (Information on key rights must also be given.
The ‘Key Rights’ could be laminated and provided for the consumer before making the sale or the basic information could be read out to the consumer. Looking at the situation practically, the simplest solution would be for the consumer to be directed to the information in the brochure or website, especially the protection details in the new 2018 PTRs. As explained above, the information in Schedule 1 would be discussed in the process of the sale.
And for telephone sales, the sales discussion should be able to highlight the basic Schedule 1 information, which could be emailed to the consumer during the sales process or reference made to the Organiser/Principal’s brochure or website. Then we come to the ‘Key Facts’. Access to their website and direction as to where the legal information can be found is one possibility, or an email highlighting the information, while the consumer is on the phone and told to refer to, is another.
You can read out the key rights, but if this isn’t practical then you can find a way to give your consumers access to them and let them know where to view them. For example, you can put the key rights on your website and refer clients to that, or you can email the key rights to clients as part of the booking process.
Linked online bookings
Where a package might be created through linked online booking processes, e.g. a travel company with whom a booking is made, transmits the consumer’s name, payment details and email address to another travel company, the first travel company must provide the consumer with the following information at the time of booking the first service:
“If you conclude a contract with the other trader not later than 24 hours after receiving the confirmation of the booking from us, the travel services provided by us and the other trader will constitute a package within the meaning of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018. Therefore, you will benefit from rights applying to packages. We will be fully responsible for the proper performance of the package. Additionally, as required by law, we have protection in place to refund your payments and, where transport is included in the package, to ensure your repatriation if it becomes insolvent.”
In all cases the consumer must then be given access to the following information on the key rights via a link where possible or, if that is not possible, by other means.
1. Consumers will receive all essential information about the package before concluding the package travel contract.
2. There is always at least one trader who is liable for the proper performance of all the travel services included in the contract.
3. Consumers are given an emergency telephone number or details of a contact point where they can get in touch with the Organiser or the Agent.
4. Consumers may transfer the package to another person, on reasonable notice and possibly subject to additional costs
5. The price of the package may only be increased if specific costs rise (for instance, fuel prices) and if expressly provided for in the contract, and in any event not later than 20 days before the start of the package. If the price increase exceeds 8 % of the price of the package, the consumer may terminate the contract. If the Organiser reserves the right to a price increase, the traveller has a right to a price reduction if there is a decrease in the relevant costs.
6. Consumers may terminate the contract without paying any termination fee and get a full refund of any payments if any of the essential elements of the package, other than the price, are changed significantly. If before the start of the package the trader responsible for the package cancels the package, consumers are entitled to a refund and compensation where appropriate.
7. Consumers may terminate the contract without paying any termination fee before the start of the package in the event of exceptional circumstances, for instance if there are serious security problems at the destination which are likely to affect the package.
8. Additionally, consumers may at any time before the start of the package terminate the contract in return for an appropriate and justifiable termination fee.
9. If, after the start of the package, significant elements of the package cannot be provided as agreed, suitable alternative arrangements will have to be offered to the consumer at no extra cost. They may terminate the contract without paying any termination fee, where services are not performed in accordance with the contract and this substantially affects the performance of the package and the Organiser fails to remedy the problem.
10. Consumers are also entitled to a price reduction and/or compensation for damages where the travel services are not performed or are improperly performed.
11. The Organiser must provide aid if the consumer is in difficulty.
12. If the Organiser or, in some Member States, the retailer becomes insolvent, payments will be refunded. If the Organiser or, where applicable, the retailer becomes insolvent after the start of the package and if transport is included in the package, repatriation of the consumers
13. Website address or link to website where the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 can be found - https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/634/contents/made
This next case study shows an example of an Online Travel Agent (OTA) selling this Dubai hotel. The website showed the traveller the style of the hotel which prompted a sale. The OTA (as facilitator) also offered a flight which was purchased separately. The OTA complied with the pre-contractual information provisions of the PTRs but, as you will see from the advertising picture and what the consumer found when they arrived, they had failed to mention the “construction works” underway at the time of the visit. A clear breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
Additional information to be provided in the package travel contract
In all cases, the consumer must also be given the following information in the package travel contract.
1. Any special requirements of the consumer which the Organiser
2. Information that the Organiser is (a) responsible for the proper performance of all travel services included in the contract; (b) obliged to provide assistance if the consumer is in difficulty.
3. The name of the entity in charge of insolvency protection and its contact details, including geographical address and, where applicable, the name of the competent authority and their contact details
4. The name, address, telephone number, email address and, where applicable, fax number of the Organiser’s local representative, of a contact point or of another service which enables the consumers to contact the Organiser quickly and communicate with the Organiser efficiently, to request assistance when the consumer is in difficulty or to complain about any lack of conformity perceived during the performance of the package.
5. Information that the consumer is required to communicate any lack of conformity which they perceive during the performance of the package.
6. Where minors who are unaccompanied by a parent or another authorised person travel on a package contract which includes accommodation, information enabling direct contact at the accommodation by a parent or another authorised person.
7. Information on available in-house complaint handling procedures and on the applicable alternative dispute resolution (ADR) entity, as well as signposting to the European Commission’s online dispute resolution (ODR) platform.
8. Information on the consumer’s right to transfer the package contract to another consumer.
This next element of ‘Best Practice’ concerns the information requirements for the sales of Linked Travel Arrangements (LTAs). If you sell an LTA, you must provide the consumer with the following information in a clear, comprehensible and prominent manner:
i) that the consumer will not benefit from any of the rights applying exclusively to packages under the Regulations
ii) that each service provider will be solely responsible for the proper contractual performance of the service
iii) that the consumer will benefit from insolvency protection that only provides for the refund of the payments they make to the company facilitating that LTA, if that company fails, and where, as a result, a travel service which is part of the LTA is not performed. If that company is responsible for the carriage of passengers, the insolvency protection must also cover the consumer’s repatriation.
iv) Consumers must also be provided with a copy of the Regulations. They can be found at www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/634/contents/made
v) All this information must be provided before the consumer is bound by any contract leading to the creation of an LTA. Standard wording in the schedules to the regulations should be used, as explained in the ‘package holiday’ requirements above, if it applies to the LTA they’re selling.
vi) It is important to understand that, if the consumer is not given the necessary information at the right time and in a clear, comprehensible and prominent manner, then even if the Organiser might have intended to create a LTA, they will be responsible for the performance of the travel services included in the LTA as if they were the Organiser of a package.
Cancellation and Significant Change requirements under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 PTRs
If an Organiser has no choice but to significantly alter the main characteristics of a package holiday, or cannot fulfil any special requirements of the traveller which the Organiser has previously accepted, then the Organiser must inform the traveller without undue delay and provide the traveller with the option to cancel the contract without paying a termination fee.
The proposed changes must be communicated to the traveller in a clear, comprehensible and prominent manner. A reasonable period within which the traveller has to respond should also be communicated. If a traveller fails to respond to notification of the relevant changes in the first instance, the Organiser should send a further notice.
If the traveller fails to respond within a reasonable deadline set by that further notice the contract will terminate but the Organiser must refund all payments without undue delay and in any event no later than 14 days after the contract is terminated.
The traveller may cancel a package any time before the start of the package but, if they do, they may be required to pay an appropriate and justifiable termination fee to the Organiser, taking into account expected cost savings and income from reselling the travel services. Cost savings are costs that the Organiser saves due to termination.
In some instances, the Organiser may not be able to resell a travel service and it could be justifiable to not reimburse the traveller. For example, if the Organiser cannot cancel an air ticket (common with economy class tickets) and, therefore cannot resell it, it would be justifiable to not reimburse the price of the ticket. Organisers may also specify standardized cancellation fees in the contract based on reasonably anticipated savings.
If the traveller does cancel, the Organiser must refund the traveller with the amount of the payments made minus the cancellation fee; that refund must be made without undue delay and in any event no later than 14 days after cancellation. The cancellation fee; that refund must be made without undue delay and in any event no later than 14 days after cancellation.
There are certain scenarios where an Organiser may cancel without paying a cancellation fee. This would be either:
a. The minimum number of participants is not reached. For the Organiser to be able to cancel on this ground, the minimum number must be stated in the package travel contract and the Organiser must notify travellers of termination within the period fixed in the contract. In any event this should be no later than
i) 20 days before the start of the package for trips lasting more than 6 days;
ii) 7 days for trips lasting between 2 and 6 days;
iii) 48 hours for trips lasting less than 2 days.
b. The Organiser is prevented from performing the contract because of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances, such as the examples above. If this is the case the Organiser must notify the traveller as soon as possible.Back to top