Package travel and linked travel arrangements
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If your business sells two or more different types of travel services such as transport combined with accommodation, rental of motor vehicles or, under specific conditions other tourist services, you have certain obligations under the EU rules on package travel. These rules apply to package travel and linked travel arrangements (LTAs).
Package travel covers all sales which include two or more different types of travel services for the same trip/holiday which are booked under a single contract with one supplier. Package travel also includes sales where services are booked with different suppliers under separate contracts as long as one of the following conditions is met:
- The travel services are bought at a single point of sale (shop, call centre or website) where the customer selects the services before agreeing to pay, i.e. before he/she concludes the first contract.
- The services were sold at an inclusive price.
- The services were advertised/sold as a "package" or under a similar term.
- Customers are entitled to choose from a selection of travel services, for example a travel gift-box.
A combination of one travel service such as accommodation and another tourist service (guided tour or admission to a concert) can only be classed as package travel if the additional service accounts for 25% or more of the overall value of the trip, or is an essential feature of the trip.
Information you must provide to customers
Before concluding the package travel contract you have to ensure that the customer receives all essential information, such as the:
- travel destination
- the list of services included
- total price
- information on passport and visa requirements
You must ensure that the customer receives a link to the standard information form explaining that they have been offered a package and outlining their key rights.
Modifying contractual terms – such as price increases
If you are given reasonable advance notice by package travel customers, they may transfer the package to another person, although this may incur additional costs.
- You may increase the price of the package if specific costs rise (for instance, fuel prices) although this must be clearly explained in the contract and cannot be applied any later than 20 days before the start of the package. If the price increase exceeds 8 % of the price of the package, the customer may terminate the contract without a termination fee.
- Under normal conditions, if you cancel the sale before the start of the package, your customers are entitled to a refund and compensation where appropriate.
- In the event of exceptional circumstances, e.g. if there is a natural disaster or if there are serious security problems at the destination that are likely to affect the package, the organiser may cancel the package. In this case no compensation is due.
- Organisers have to provide assistance if the traveller is in difficulty, such as providing information on health services and helping the traveller to find alternative travel arrangements.
Protection for customers (such as alternative arrangements, compensation, refunds)
As an organiser you are responsible for the proper performance of all travel services included in the package. If a travel service cannot be provided as agreed, you may have to make alternative arrangements for your customers at no extra cost. You may also have to pay compensation if the travel services do not reach the agreed standards.
In some EU countries, depending on where the package is offered, retailers may also be liable in addition to organisers.
Linked travel arrangements
Linked travel arrangements (LTAs) are travel services that are bought from different traders in separate contracts but are linked. They are classed as linked when one trader facilitates the booking of the subsequent service(s), and they are purchased for the purpose of the same trip or holiday.
Linked travel arrangements only apply if the combination of travel services does not constitute a package (see above) and a supplier facilitates the:
- booking on the basis of a single visit or contact with his/her point of sale, e.g. during one visit to a travel agent, or
- second booking, which is made in a targeted manner and the conclusion of a contract for the second travel service from another supplier is made within 24 hours of the confirmation of the booking of the first travel service
A combination of one travel service such as accommodation and another tourist service (guided tour or admission to a concert) can only be classed as a linked travel arrangement if the additional service accounts for 25% or more of the overall value of the trip, or is an essential feature of the trip.
You must provide the customer with a link to the standard information form explaining that they have been offered a linked travel arrangement and outlining their key rights.
Click-through packages - online bookings (flight, accommodation etc.) made by a customer at different points of sale - are also classed as 'packages', as long as the first service provider transmits the customer's name, email address and payment details to the second provider and the second contract is concluded within 24 hours of the first contract.
If there is no transfer of the customer's details between the suppliers, these bookings are considered as linked travel arrangements (LTAs).
Liability for booking errors and right of redress
These rules apply to package travel and LTAs.
You will be considered liable if any of the following occurs during the booking process:
- technical defects in the booking system which are attributed to you
- errors made when you are responsible for arranging the booking of a package or of travel services which are part of linked travel arrangements.
You are not liable for booking errors which are attributable to your customers, or which are deemed unavoidable or due to extraordinary circumstances.
You have the right to seek redress from any third parties who contributed to the event where you had to pay out compensation, reduce the price or perform any other obligations.
These rules apply to package travel and LTAs.
You will have to take out insolvency protection in the EU country where you are established. This will ensure that in case of bankruptcy, the guarantor (a travel guarantee fund, insurance company or any other mechanism provided for in the relevant EU country) can refund the payments made by your customers and will, if required, repatriate travellers if transport is included in the package.