The way Britons book their holidays has changed hugely in recent years and we are now without doubt in the age of the online ‘package holiday’. We’re increasingly advised to shop around and seek a bargain for everything that we buy, with many websites able to deliver the same products at much lower prices.
The Association of British Transport Agents Holiday Habits Report 2017 showed that Britons took more holidays on average per person in last year than at any time since 2011, with 87 per cent of people surveyed saying they took a holiday either at home or abroad in the 12 months to August 2017.
The percentage of people holidaying abroad has also increased to 57 per cent, whilst 83 per cent of people saying they now go online to book their holiday.
Booking holidays abroad using a general booking website is most popular with people aged 25-34, with 57 per cent of this age group booking this way. People aged 45-54 and over 65 are most likely to book directly with service providers (49 per cent).
However, at times there can be a price to pay for skimping on spend, and booking holidays abroad is an area where we know caution and clarity are the words to follow.
Yes, there are some amazing holiday deals available, especially when booking late. But if you find yourself saying ‘it seems too good to be true’, then the best advice would be to carefully check the small print.
You may believe you have booked a ‘package holiday’, but in reality, you may find you have something very different, and possibly could have contracts with a multiple number of suppliers for the duration of your holiday.
The issue then is if something goes wrong.
You may find the website which you used to arrange your holiday has no responsibility for the flight being cancelled, the transport to your accommodation not turning up, or the defective hotel premises which caused you to be injured.
You could also find yourself having to deal directly with foreign companies should you suffer an injury or illness and wish to claim compensation.
All of a sudden, the savings on booking your holiday would not look such great value, so, here is our simple guide to what a package holiday is, and what your rights are.
What is a package holiday?
Under the 1992 Regulations a package holiday is described as a pre-arranged combination of at least two of the following parts;
- Transport; and
- Other services that make up a significant component of the holiday. For example if you book a package holiday to the World Cup and you book tickets to a game.
BEWARE: Holiday bookings where requests to book a flight with accommodation and/or car hire are made at the same time or within a day may not always be classed as a package but may be made up of multiple contracts of two or more, such as one for the flights, one for the hotel and one for the car hire.
A good way of checking is on your invoice from the website you have booked your holiday package from. If it is all priced together in one inclusive price, it is likely to be a true package holiday.
If the flights, transport and accommodation are all priced separately, it is likely that it is not a true package deal, and that you have individual contracts with each of the service providers. Be warned…and check!
The last point of note in respect of the 1992 Regulations is they only apply to package holidays booked in the UK and do not cover package holidays that are booked through a foreign supplier.
What are my rights under a ‘Package Holiday’?
As the law presently stands under The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992, when you book a package holiday you have certain enhanced consumer protection. This enhanced protection includes
- Being provided accommodation at a higher or similar standard if your Tour Operator makes changes to your original accommodation either before or after departure.
- Being provided accommodation of a lower standard than that booked with your Tour Operator and to obtain from the Tour Operator compensation in the form of the difference in price between the accommodation that you originally booked and the lower standard accommodation that you are provided. Again this protection is offered if your Tour Operator makes changes to your booking before or after departure.
- Obtaining a refund of the price of your holiday if the Tour Operator makes changes to your booking prior to departure.
- The right to obtain compensation should aspects of your holiday not match what was advertised in the brochure. For example if a hotel is described as being on the sea front but in reality is a 20 minute bus ride away or advertising the hotel has a swim-up bar, but none is provided.
- The right to obtain compensation if you are not informed in good time as to the nature and extent of any building works and these building works are present upon your arrival in resort.
Knowing exactly what your holiday package covers you for and entitles you to is paramount in the modern world.