New German package travel law

Tour operators turn hotel-only bookings into package holidays

Travel agents and tour operators in Germany are gearing up for next week’s implementation of the complex new package travel law with last-minute administration and new offers for holidaymakers.

June 28, 2018
The new package travel law enters force on July 1, just as the peak beach holiday season starts.
Photo: Daniela H. - stock.adobe.com

Under the new law, which implements the EU Package Travel Directive, consumers will get more legal protection for online bookings as well as for ‘combined’ travel agency bookings of separate travel products from different suppliers (such as flights and hotels). Consumers will also have more time (up to two years) to seek compensation for verifiable holiday problems, such as in hotels.

Another important change is that tour operators will be able to increase a package holiday price by up to 8% up to 20 days before departure if they can prove that their costs (e.g. taxes, charges, fuel prices) rose after the booking was made. The previous limit was 5%. However, they also have to reduce the price if their costs fall.

The German travel industry has been working intensively in recent months and weeks to prepare for the new law. The German Travel Industry Association (DRV) said the law would bring “countless” advantages for holidaymakers, while travel agents would be able to provide “appropriate” advice to their customers. In future, travel agents will provide customers with a form informing them of their legal rights before advising them about travel products and making bookings.

Leading tour operators have responded with an important product change. In future, hotel-only bookings will be combined with a ‘service package’ (such as destination services) in order to turn them into package holidays, which automatically include customer support in case of problems or emergencies, and which are fully covered by insolvency insurance. Examples of service packages include TUI’s Plus Paket, Thomas Cook’s Sunny Heart package and similar deals from DER Touristik and other top tour operators (with the prominent exception of Alltours).

This move could give tour operators a significant competitive advantage over direct bookings of hotel accommodation or holiday homes, which are not legally defined as package holidays.

TUI also announced that “in the interest of customers” it will not take advantage of the new opportunity to increase prices by up to 8% after the booking.

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