Comment: Be aware of new BEIS guidance on PTRs

Farina Azam of Deloitte Legal assesses updated advice for businesses on package travel and linked travel arrangements

On July 25, the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) updated its guidance for businesses on how to interpret the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 (PTRs) with some additional case studies on what constitutes “other tourist services” and Linked Travel Arrangements (LTAs).

A particular grey area in the interpretation of the PTRs has been what constitutes a “tourist service” for the purposes of a creating a package holiday, as opposed to being a service which is an intrinsic part of, for example, the accommodation or transport arrangements booked by the customer. This crops up as an issue quite regularly in the context of hotels which can have spas, golf courses or restaurants offering bespoke dining experiences (such as tasting menus) as part of their hotel facilities. Whether the combination of a hotel stay plus spa, golf or dining experience creates a package will depend on how the services are advertised and how they’re booked by the customer.

For example (and using the case studies provided in the BEIS guidance), a customer booking a weekend stay at a hotel which has an on-site spa, available at an additional cost.

  • At the time of booking the hotel stay, the customer also books a package of spa treatments, which cost almost as much as the hotel accommodation does. This would create a package governed by the PTRs, as the spa treatments were booked at the same time as the hotel accommodation, and due to the value of the spa treatments, they’re likely to constitute a distinct service and an essential feature of the trip. However, had the customer booked the treatments whilst already staying at the hotel, or if the spa treatments were of a significantly lower value, then this would likely not create a package (unless advertised as an “essential” feature by the hotel).

Similarly, take the example of a hotel which has a golf course as part of its facilities, where rounds of golf are available at an extra cost (and available to both hotel guests and visitors alike).

  • Where a customer books a weekend break at the hotel with a round of golf included in the price, the BEIS guidance considers this to constitute a package. I would caveat this slightly, that I think this is likely to create a package but only if either advertised as a “weekend golf trip” or where the value of the round of golf is a significant proportion of the value of the holiday.

BEIS has also provided some additional guidance around the creation of an LTA, and in particular an “LTA Type B”, which is created where a trader “facilitates in a targeted manner” the procurement of one or more additional travel services from a second trader, where such additional services are booked within 24 hours. There has always been some ambiguity over what constitutes “in a targeted manner” versus providing mere information or advertising not linked to a booking, especially in the context of targeted advertising via cookies or meta data. The BEIS guidance confirms that it considers advertising generated by cookies or meta data to be simply informing the customer of additional travel services in a general way, and not “in a targeted manner”, and therefore any booking made because of this advertising would not create an LTA.

Any additional guidance on how to interpret the PTRs is always welcome and gratefully received by those of us who advise the travel industry on these issues. Hotel stays with experiences added on to them are increasingly popular and I would advise all businesses selling these services to review their practices to ensure they’re not inadvertently breaching the PTRs and depriving consumers of rights they’re legally entitled to.

Farina Azam is Partner, Deloitte Legal

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