Top Tips From Experts 'mb LAW' On Managing Risks In Adventure Travel
By Pru Goudie
As we heard at the recent ATN Consumer Insights webinar adventure travel is on the rise, demand is strong and Brits are very much back travelling around Europe. Not only that, they’re planning, booking and setting their sights on destinations further afield and we can all breath a sigh of relief because at long last long-haul travel is taking off!
Managing risk used to be perceived as a niche area within businesses, but there is more to managing risk than that general perception. When things go wrong it can have a profound impact across the business, therefore this is something all stakeholders should be involved with.
The phrase I keep hearing time and time again at various industry conferences and events is that no matter how long we’ve had in the game ‘we are all start-ups again’.
So, with Brits finally on the move I contacted mb LAW, who specialise exclusively in providing a full range of legal services to the travel industry and are fellow business members of AITO - The Specialist Travel Association, to discuss the different strategies available and what operators need to be doing.
I spoke to Becky Cackett, a solicitor at mb LAW who specialise in regulatory and commercial contracts, and she explained.
“As travel businesses start to regain momentum, it would be wise to reflect on whether commercial and customer facing agreements will meet the challenges of life post covid-19.
The effects of the pandemic caused a number of unusual legal disputes many of which may have been avoided or resolved had the contractual paperwork been properly prepared.
Now is therefore a good time to review such paperwork to ensure that travel operators and agents have clear unambiguous legal documents that they can rely on.
Risk management may include the following:
Information. The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 (PTR) provides that specific information should be given to travellers before they book. Know what this information is and make sure that you are providing it.
Itineraries. These are often indicative only and may be subject to change as a result of local conditions. Your customers should understand that there might be some ‘on tour’ flexibility, without any guarantees about specific routes, seeing specific places or animals or having specific interactions.
Fitness. Customers may need to have a particular level of fitness or physical ability to go on a particular trip and this must be clearly communicated throughout your documentation.
Specific requirements. You may not be able to cater for specific requirements such as those applicable to reduced mobility, medical needs or for specific dietary requirements. Again, this needs to be clearly communicated. Under the PTR you must provide general advice as to the suitability of your arrangements for clients with reduced mobility.
Managing Specific Risks
Liability. Your liability as a tour operator is imposed by the PTR. You need to clearly set out your legal responsibilities in your booking conditions and protect your position as much as you can.
Health and safety. When operating in remote locations there is an increased risk that if things go wrong, it can be serious. Therefore, health and safety risk assessments are essential. This applies to short haul too. Have a strategy to mitigate damage and deal with problems. Have people on the ground (either your employees or suppliers) who are properly trained and know where to turn.
Insurance. Your customers – make suitable insurance a condition of the booking You – claims against you in the UK, not your supplier in destination, are likely to be made. Make sure that you are fully and properly insured to cover the risks involved in what you do and how you operate Your suppliers – ensure that they hold insurance to cover claims.
Indemnities. The contracts you have with your suppliers need to protect you. This includes obtaining appropriate indemnities. Extreme care needs to be taken with the wording of these. Other key considerations in supplier contracts include the applicable law and jurisdiction (ideally English Law and English Courts) and the suppliers’ insurance obligations. Ideally use your own agreement drafted by a suitably experienced legal professional or seek advice on supplier contracts before you sign them.
Waivers. Waivers that exclude tour operator liability for personal injury or death caused by your negligence are not enforceable so seek advice if you are considering one. Where your suppliers ask your customers to sign waivers, be aware that this may affect any indemnity you have, and therefore your ability to recover from the supplier.
Don’t be caught short!
Know when to seek advice, whether that be specialist training, insurance advice, legal advice, health and safety risk advice or disaster relief and trauma management.
If you have any queries about anything in this article please contact Becky Cackett
on email@example.com for a risk mitigation health check.
The next Adventure Travel Networking Conference & Marketplace will take place on 21 & 23 February 2023 as a hybrid event. Register your interest HERE
Pru Goudie, Founder