Marie-Anne Fabre, from Satya Avocat, tells us more about the regulation.
Abiding by the travel industry’s legal obligations is vital for any person or company who contemplates starting a business involving tourist and/or travel services, or even simple events.
Any travel-related service is strictly regulated. And it’s entirely normal and logical, given the numerous risks on takes by booking any service to be delivered abroad.
And even if you book services only in your home country, you should know that you must abide by the law.
The first rule is that you have to guarantee your customers delivery of the services you book for them, even if you only recommend them. And you should not recommend or book any service that involves health hazard or any other risk whatsoever.
Any professional business carries risks, but the travel business so much more so since it often involves delivery of services in foreign countries, and because of the very nature of the services themselves: extreme sports are a good example to illustrate this simple fact.
As long as you sell travel services, your liablity has to be covered by a professional insurance plan, and the said plan must include wordlwide international coverage, or it must cover at least every destination country or territory in which you’ll be sending travelers.
In the same way, given the fact that it could be several months between booking and delivery of a trip, you should be able to guarantee the delivery of teh services you book your customers into.
Thus, if for any reason, your activity is suspended between a booking and the travelers’ actual departure date, or if you file for 11 and stop your business altogether, you must ensure your customers they will still be able to enjoy their holidays.
This is the very important part “financial or legal guarantee” plays in any travel business. And in most developed countries, it’s mandatory for any travel agent.
Any travel agent, tour designer or trip planner should have professional liability and financial guarantee coverage for all the destination countries they plan to do business in.
And a contract with the customer should be established for each trip you book. When using Vialala as a booking platform, you fully benefit from our travel agent license.
But if you decide to sell services to your customers directly, even in the case of simple advice as a trip planner, you should be very careful to meet all your obligations.
As long as you use Vialala, we are fully responsible for your customers. We take care of everything, including the advice or trip planning charge you invoice us once the trip is booked.
This doesn’t however exempt you from getting professional liability coverage, but you don’t need any travel agent license.
In contrast, if you decide to sell trip planning advice without using our platform, you should be very careful to restrict your services to simple advice and recommendations, and not to book and resell any service yourself, even as a simple intermediary.
Example: you’d better not book your customers into a hotel if you don’t want to be deemed responsible for the booking’s “delivery”. And we strongly advise against booking plane tickets.
In the event of any difficulty arising when your customers check in for their room or flight, they will hold you responsible for any problem. And, in most countries, you’ll be breaking the law as well since you don’t have a travel agent license allowing you to make bookings on behalf of your customers.
In conclusion, if you plan to do more than just provide advice to your customers and start helping them book their trips, it’s important that you get travel agent coverage (or in many countries, a mandatory license); alternatively, you should use Vialala and ensure all your customers: 1. get a real travel contract and vouchers, and 2. be offered elective specialized travel insurance plans.
And in any event, you’ll always have to be covered thanks to professional liability coverage and financial “delivery” guarantee.