We’re all guilty of it…clicking the “I have read the Terms & Conditions” box without going further to read through the pages and pages of legal babble. For one, we rarely understand the legal terminology, let alone feel we have the time to scroll through and understand the contract. Secondly, we know we won’t get any further purchasing the much desired or needed product without check the box … so we just do it!
After 35 years in the travel business, you would think I’d seen it all, but as much as I review the terms and conditions of travel with my clients, I still hear surprise when expectations don’t meet delivery of services. Trust is a huge part of buying travel services which is why using a professional travel advisor can save you much heartache and disappointment. As I say, the Internet doesn’t love you like I do!
Here are some of the most common areas covered in travel service delivery terms and conditions, with the exception of air travel which is a whole other matter. Pull out a copy of your last travel documents for a packaged tour or cruise and let’s demystify – with the caveat I’m NOT a lawyer.
- Where is the company registered? This will determine the laws and any affiliations governing your travel contract. Yes, this is a contract!
- Next you will see section(s) showing how pricing is done, currency/conversion/allowable price increases/deposits and final payment timeframes, as well as acceptable payment methods.
- Cancellations and making changes! A big one – what will you lose if you choose to cancel or alter your trip along with any associated costs and penalties. This one alone should have you running to get your trip cancellation insurance.
- Eligibility: Here you will find any exclusions but more so, who would most enjoy this type of travel product. Women only? Over 50? Families with young children? This is not to discriminate but to match expectations and increase enjoyment. Not into food – then culinary tours are probably not a good match. Again, another reason to work with a travel advisor whose job it is to know supplier products.
- Preparing for your trip is part of the excitement and planning. What does the travel supplier offer in the way of pre-trip information? Reputable suppliers want you to be prepared so as to avoid disappointment. Information packages are usually delivered to you 3 weeks to one month out. Timeframes may be stated in the terms and conditions.
- Travel Documents: Please DO NOT miss out or be denied entry into a country by not reading this section. Is your passport accepted and valid for travel? Do you require a visa to enter a country? Are vaccinations required for this type of trip?
- Insurance: Yes, this comes up repeatedly in Terms & Conditions. The only way to truly protect yourself is to have the right kind of travel insurance for your unique situation. Not all travel insurance is the same. Here too, there will be terms and conditions which cannot be ignored. Ask a travel pro if you need assistance. YOU NEED COVERAGE!
- RISKS: All travel brings risk. Did you know most accidents happen within 5 miles of our homes? Now add the factors of a different country, different laws, different standards, customs …. the list has endless risk possibilities. There are so many factors that cannot be controlled by the travel supplier. In this section they will highlight what their roles and responsibilities are to you the traveller.
- Limitation of Liability & Release: Basically, because of the inherent risks of travel, the supplier is not liable for anything. Nor are any third party contractors – as it takes a village to provide travel services. We do the best we can to deliver the product we’ve promoted, but changes may have to be made. Are you prepared? Acknowledgement of the terms and conditions is actually their release from all indemnity. Some suppliers have a separate form which must be signed to acknowledge you’ve read the terms and conditions.
Next time you go to purchase travel services, pay attention to the Terms & Conditions BEFORE you put money down. Ask your travel professional to explain these terms. You have a right and a responsibility to ask. Now you know where you stand, put the terms and conditions aside and travel safe and travel well!