Taking a mix-and-match holiday has become more popular and is increasing around Europe. Find out how the new mix and match holiday regulations provide better financial protection for UK holidaymakers.
There are several major differences between so-called 'mix-and-match holidays' and traditional package holidays.
As a rule, a package tour is a vacation completely organized by a travel agent with an inclusive price.
The agency would have the responsibility of carrying out all the necessary arrangements. That means accommodation, transportation, and other activities or services (e.g. car hire).
Mix-and-match holidaymakers choose a different way of organising their travel arrangements. Travelers would choose different elements from a single point of sale. That can either be an online or an offline POS.
New rules will also provide better protection for linked travel arrangements. In this case, a traveler might book a flight on a website and then get invited to book a hotel from a different website.
The regulations have always covered the pre-arranged type of package holidays. But, the EU package travel rules changed on the 1st of July 2018. They have now extended to cover self-customised packages with even greater financial protection.
Businesses must be clear about informing all travellers whether they are offering a package tour or a linked travel arrangement. Staff must explain the key rights of consumers through standardised information forms.
The business must also provide clear information on the features and characteristics of the package. That should include the total price of the deal and any extra charges incurred.
Package organisers now have a responsibility to take out insolvency protection. Having the guarantee would cover any refunds or repatriation if they go bankrupt. The same guarantee now applies to linked travel arrangements as well.
The organiser of the package becomes liable if anything goes wrong. This would apply no matter which company performs the actual travel services. Thus, the new package travel rules provide better financial protection for mix-and-match holidaymakers.
Consumers can cancel their intended package holiday for any reason. But, in most cases they would need to pay a reasonable fee for doing so.
Even so, there are several valid grounds for canceling a holiday free of charge, such as if:
What would happen if travelers were unable to return from a package holiday (e.g. a natural disaster)? In this case, the new regulations would grant them accommodation for up to three (3) nights.
Note: Extra nights are usually covered in line with the relevant passenger rights regulations.
The package organiser must also provide any necessary assistance to travelers who find themselves in difficulty. Among others, it means they must provide information on health services and how to get consular assistance.
The new rules apply to at least two different combinations of travel services effective from July 2018. They include transport, accommodation, car rental, and other selected services. The regulation applies to:
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ABTA confirmed that these holiday travel arrangements will now get classified as packages. This means the new regulations offer the best form of protection for 'mix and match' customers.
The outcome of increased financial protection is good news for holidaymakers booking a package. Being entitled to a refund, or brought home, if the travel company goes out of business is vital.
The travel company must ensure the customer gets the package holiday that they paid for. It includes resolving the problem if something is not provided - or is not as expected.
This rule applies whether the travel company, or its suppliers, are at fault. It may mean offering an alternative package or providing a complete or partial refund.
Note: The EU Package travel directive was first drawn up in 2015. It updated certain 'ambiguities' and legal gaps in consumer protection of the rules which were in force from 1990. Even so, the timeline for the new regulations on mix-and-match holidays apply in all EU countries from the 1st of July 2018.
Mix-and-Match Holidaymakers get Increased Financial Protection