The countdown to July 2018 and the implementation of the Package Travel Regulations 2018 continues in earnest. The definition of a ‘package’ under these Regulations will be significantly extended such that travel businesses who to date have sold ‘dynamic packages’ behind an agency status will become ‘organisers’; with increased liabilities to their customers. For now at least, these businesses’ VAT status will remain in tact, meaning that they may still avoid the additional costs associated with UK TOMS (tour operators’ margin scheme) VAT, however there is no avoiding the extra legal responsibilities organiser status brings, in particular those associated with health and safety:-

  • Agents will be responsible for implementing their own health and safety checking procedures. That will mean additional resources in terms of contracting and auditing of suppliers’ services. Agents will need to ‘re-assess’ the quality of hotels or bed bank suppliers both in terms of the indemnity protection they are able to offer, and the health and safety procedures they themselves have in place.
  • They will need to have a 24-hour duty office and emergency procedure training for all senior management.
  • The current wave of alleged sickness claims sweeping the industry is likely to engulf this new sector of agent-organisers who to date may not have had a significant claims record with insurers. These two factors are likely to lead to an increase in agents’ public liability insurance premiums.

Given the above, it’s possible that we will see a shift in the way agents contract the services making up their packages – away from a scatter gun approach to provide volume and diversity for the consumer; towards a more considered and slimmer portfolio of better protected services.

  • Share: