Book smarter and avoid a holiday disaster
10 April 2017
Being left stranded or out of pocket is everyone’s holiday nightmare, so the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is warning consumers to do their homework before booking travel and accommodation.
Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said regardless of the destination, consumers should research their travel and accommodation options thoroughly before booking.
“It’s very easy to check online reviews and social media for information on travel and accommodation providers,” Mr Bauer said.
“As more consumers turn to sharing services like Airbnb, and deal directly with owners of holiday homes rather than established travel and accommodation providers, doing your research and taking steps to protect yourself becomes even more important.
“Before booking, make sure you are aware of exactly who you are paying – is it an individual, an accommodation sharing website or a hotel?
“Make sure all payments made online are secure, avoid direct depositing money into unknown accounts, and if you’re still unsure, request to pay via a third-party escrow payment service like PayPal.
“If you are using an accommodation sharing website, or dealing directly with an individual renting out a holiday home, closely check the terms and conditions for rules on refunds, date changes and what’s included in the price.”
The Australian travel industry was deregulated in 2014, however the Australian Federation of Travel Agents launched a Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS), members of which are required to adhere to a code of conduct.
- The OFT recommends consumers take the following steps to protect their travel and accommodation purchases:
- Do plenty of research, and do it before you book and pay. Look for reviews on travel websites and feedback left by previous customers.
- Consider using an ATAS accredited travel agent.
- Purchase travel insurance, including cover for both your travel agent and any travel providers.
- Ensure the travel insurance covers situations where a travel or accommodation provider becomes insolvent after you have paid but before you have travelled.
- Make sure any booking websites you use are secure, and always keep any documentation and receipts.
- Consider the way you pay. If you pay using a credit card, you may be able to get a ‘chargeback’ if you don’t receive the goods or services paid for.
- Avoid paying the full amount months in advance. Explore options where you only pay a deposit to secure your booking.
- Remember, even if you’re using a sharing service, such as Airbnb, you are still protected by your consumer rights.
For more information about your consumer rights when booking travel and accommodation, go to www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.