Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the Pink Book of Legislation, we regret that we cannot be responsible for any errors. This guide is not intended to be a definitive statement of the law in England. If you require precise or detailed information on the legislation mentioned in this guide, or on the legal implications for you in particular, you should consult a professional legal adviser.
- If you offer a package of services that lasts at least 24 hours and includes at least two out of three of transport, accommodation and other significant visitor services, then you are probably subject to the Package Holiday Regulations.
- The Package Holiday Regulations include provisions relating to the marketing, booking and delivery of the package.
Package Holiday Regulations
The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (amended in 1995) affect many accommodation providers.
These regulations concern the marketing, sale and performance of package holidays. They apply not only to the big companies offering overseas package holidays, but also those offering domestic packages, including hotels offering inclusive holidays and breaks (for example, themed weekend breaks such as murder mystery weekends or golfing breaks).
Enforcement and penalties
There are criminal penalties for non-compliance. Trading Standards are responsible for enforcing the legislation.
Do the regulations apply to me?
Yes: if you are offering a package of services for sale at an inclusive price that includes at least two of the services listed below and the package lasts for at least 24 hours or includes overnight accommodation, you will probably be offering a 'package' that is subject to the regulations:
- other visitor services that are a significant part of the package and not ancillary to transport or accommodation (e.g. excursions, access to a golf course or theatre tickets. Educational, business or conference services are excluded).
What do regulations require?
The regulations contain provisions relating to the marketing, booking and delivery of the package including:
- to be included in the brochure
- to be provided before the booking is made and
- to be provided in good time
- the contents and form of the booking
- arrangements for transfers of bookings, cancellations, price revisions and other significant changes to the arrangements
- liability for not providing the services agreed
- security of guests' monies in the event of the insolvency of your business, e.g. bonding, insurance and holding monies in trust.
Government guidance on what is a package
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) provides guidance for tourism businesses on the application of the Package Holiday Regulations.
The guidance provides a good explanation as to when services you are supplying are considered to be a package and when they are not. It also addresses the tricky issue of 'dynamic packaging', where the customer builds their own package from a list of products and services that the operator provides. In simple terms, this is considered a package when:
- the aggregated cost of the components chosen by the customer is different from the cost of the separate components (i.e. a discount is provided if customers book accommodation and another service)
- the cost to the customer is not disaggregated when they choose the different components (i.e. an 'all-in' price is provided rather than a sum of the parts)
A copy of the guidance is available on the Gov.uk website. Although the guidance offers a good assessment of what constitutes a package, you are advised to seek specific advice about your own holiday products as this remains a complex area.
Note: The European Commission has recently revised the Package Travel Directive and the UK will be undertaking a consultation in early 2017 with a view to implementing the new Directive on 1 July 2018. This new Directive creates three different sorts of travel arrangements with differing rules. These arrangements are:
- pre-arranged packages - ready-made holidays from a tour operators made up of at least two elements: transport, accommodation or other services e.g. car rental
- customised packages - selection of components for the same trip or holiday by the traveller and bought from a single business online or offline
- linked travel arrangements - looser combinations of travel services, for instance if the traveller, after having booked one travel service on one website, is invited to book another service through a targeted link or similar and the second booking is made within 24 hours. In such cases the traveller has to be informed that he/she is not being offered a package, but that, under certain conditions, their pre-payments will be protected.