Abta head of legal affairs Simon Bunce explains the requirements when selling holidays under the new directive
The new Package Travel Directive (PTD), which comes into effect in 2018, lays down specific rules for sellers of packages and Linked Travel Arrangements (LTAs).
These include new requirements regarding the information that must be given to customers before they make a booking and amended rules about financial protection.
In addition to the usual information about the main details of a booking – such as the dates, destination and price – organisers and retailers of package holidays will be required to give standard information that sets out the rights the customer or customers have because they have bought a package.
This includes information about the customer’s right to raise complaints with the organiser if any of the services are not provided properly, the right to an emergency contact number, cancellation rights in the event of significant changes before departure, and information about the financial protection in the event of the organiser’s failure.
Customers buying package holidays will also be entitled to information about whether the holiday is generally suitable for persons with reduced mobility. They will also be entitled to ask for precise information on the suitability of the holiday in light of their particular needs.
Information must also be given about the language in which services will be conducted, if relevant.
In addition, there is standard information that travel companies must give to customers buying an LTA. This will explain that these holidays provide less protection than a package. It will tell customers that they will not get the rights available to package customers and that the seller is responsible only for the travel services it provides, not for the additional services.
It will also explain that any financial protection covering the seller does not protect the customer if the other service providers go bust. Details of what constitutes an LTA were outlined in the first part of this series (Travel Weekly, August 6).
Package organisers will continue to need financial protection for customers in the event of their failure. At the moment, this is typically done through a scheme such as Abta’s or via an Atol.
The new regulations will require any protection scheme to protect the company’s sales across the EU, which should make cross-border trading easier.
The directive also means that, as now, package organisers are responsible if any of the travel service providers involved in a holiday goes bust.
Travel companies that arrange LTAs either through click-through sales or via separate sales on websites or in shops will need financial protection to protect the money they hold. When they do this as a travel agent, it will be similar to the pipeline money protection given by Abta retail bonding. When the travel company arranging the LTA is an airline, this will be protection both for the refund of any money held if the airline goes bust before departure and protection for repatriation if the airline fails while the customer is overseas.
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