However there has been an increase in web based selling of what is known as “Dynamic Packaging” This is where companies posing as travel agents (but would better be described as tour operators) sell different components including flights an accommodation separately.
If a dynamic package has been booked, the holiday maker will enter into separate contracts with the hotel provider and airlines, the consequence being if something goes wrong at the hotel, they may be unable to sue the UK based travel agent. Consumers will have to try and claim compensation in the country where the accident or illness occurred – which would hardly be worth it in most cases due to the expenses and difficulties involved.
There is nothing wrong or illegal about Travel Agents that want to sell “Dynamic Packages” as long as they make it quite clear to their customers that they will not have the same rights as those that book package holidays. Responsible agents should make it abundantly clear that if there are problems such as a food poisoning outbreak at a hotel in Turkey - or a holiday accident sustained due to a tour operator failure to comply with local safety regulations Spain, they will not be able to claim compensation in the UK.
What makes matters worse is the practice by some companies of advertising what appears to be a package holiday (with full details including dates, flight details and hotel all named at an all-inclusive price) but, according to their booking conditions, is not a package. This dubious practice banks on holiday makers either not reading or not properly understanding their booking conditions. The travel company benefits because they reduce their chances of being sued if something goes wrong with the holiday. Moreover, they may seek to avoid putting the investment into health and safety, quality and insurance that the more responsible tour operators do as a matter of course.
Simpson Millar solicitors have specialist Holiday Compensation Lawyers that help people claim compensation for holidays ruined by accidents and illness. It is their experience that the larger tour operators including Thomas Cook, Thomson, First Choice, Virgin and Cosmos do not attempt to bypass their obligations and have booking conditions that comply with their moral and legal obligations.
Simpson Millar recommends three simple principles should be adopted to safeguard their rights when booking a holiday.
1. Look carefully at how the holiday is sold. Are flights, accommodation and coach transfers etc. sold at an all-inclusive price?
2. Make sure you properly read the booking conditions to ensure you have booked a package holiday and you are not booking directly with the hotel and the airline. NEVER tick the online box saying you have read the booking conditions unless you have, in fact, read and understood them.
3. Print off all the documents relating to your holiday so you have records should the operator try and deny you your rights when you complain.
Simpson Millar also urges consumers to take care when making telephone bookings. Quite often, after the price is agreed, a “spiel” is read out in which consumers are advised that their hotel booking is with a separate organiser. By the time it is read out, consumers may be put off back-tracking and informing the pushy sales advisor they no longer wish to book.
Those unlucky enough to have experienced serious injuries abroad or serious bouts traveller’s diarrhoea on holiday to places like Turkey, Egypt and Spain are urged to contact the Simpson Millar Travel Law team on 0808 145 1353