The rise of DIY holiday planning could have serious implications for travellers who need to pursue a claim for compensation after they fly home, a lawyer has warned.
Elisabeth Glover, a solicitor who specialises in consumer claims at FBC Manby Bowdler, said individual holidaymakers who book their own flights and holidays rather than a package tour should be aware of consumer rights issues before they leave.
“When it’s so easy to book online, the attraction is to create a trip that’s unique to you especially with the rise of websites like Airbnb and reviews on Tripadvisor,” she said.
“But if something goes wrong, whether it’s an outbreak of food poisoning, or the hotel is a health and safety disaster area, what happens next is likely to be a much tougher course to navigate for self-booked travellers.
“As well as having less clout to win a swift result to a complaint directed to a service provider, a DIY travel planner will not have a simple route to compensation, unlike a package holiday, where travellers use a company operating under the Package Travel Regulations.”
Package tour operators have an obligation to make sure that the hotels they use match up to international standards on food safety and facilities. If someone on a package trip is unhappy, they can complain to the company representative, and if they become ill or have an accident through the negligence of the hotel or any other service provider in the package, they may be entitled to make a claim on the tour operator.
One recent claim against tour operator First Choice was by a British holidaymaker who travelled to the all-inclusive Dreams Resort & Spa in the Dominican Republic. He successfully received a five-figure payout, after spending two days in hospital on the island and suffering long-term health issues due to food poisoning contracted at the hotel.
In another case in the Dominican Republic, £5.5m was secured in compensation for nearly 1,000 travellers who contracted serious illnesses when they stayed at the Bahia Principe Hotel with tour operators that included First Choice, Thomas Cook, My Travel and Thomson. The guests described seeing animals and vermin in the dining area and cockroaches in their bedrooms, with sewage and sanitation problems around the hotel complex.