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What to know when booking a vacation

September 7, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Now that fall is here, many people will consider taking a trip south when the cooler weather arrives.

Ontario laws protect consumers when they book a trip with a registered travel agent.

In Ontario, travel agents, both retailers and wholesalers, must be registered with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, which enforced the Travel Industry Act. Registered travel agents or travel wholesalers have a TICO registration number, which they must display when communicating information to people about travel services, including advertisements, websites, or brochures.

Some travel agents or wholesalers may also display the TICO logo, indicating they are registered.

If you book with a TICO-registered travel agent, whether online, in person, or over the phone, you have some rights under the Travel Industry Act. If you book directly with an airline, hotel, or resort yourself, your trip is not protected.

All Ontario travel agents and wholesalers registered with TICO are required to follow rules when advertising the price of travel services. Under these rules, they must display the total price to consumers – often called all-in pricing – in any advertising that includes the cost of travel services.

This includes all taxes, fees, levies, and other charges such as counselling fees.

All-in pricing helps reduce confusion when you are purchasing travel services in Ontario, such as all-inclusive vacations.

Travel agents must also provide you with specific information about your trip. This includes information about the destination that may affect your decision to purchase – for example, health, weather, or construction warnings.

They must give you an invoice that is itemized so you understand exactly what you are paying for. They must tell you about the terms and conditions of your booking, including rules for changing, continuing or cancelling the trip.

You should be informed about typical travel documents and entry requirements for the destination – for example, passport, visa, vaccinations, affidavits, and the timeline to get these documents ready before booking.

They must inform you if they charge a service fee for travel counselling, whether or not you decide to book with them.

The Travel Industry Compensation Fund offers protection in certain circumstances for any travel services you’ve paid for and did not receive during or before the trip because of the bankruptcy or insolvency of a travel agent or travel wholesaler registered in Ontario, an airline, or cruiseline. It may also cover reasonable replacement costs you must pay to complete a trip, such as, transportation, accommodation, and meals.

If you have a complaint against a registered travel agency or tour operator, you should first inform the business of your complaint. If it’s not resolved, you can contact TICO with your complaint.

Ask the right questions when booking a trip.

Questions include: Is the travel booking website secure? Is the price of the trip listed in Canadian dollars? What are the cancellation and refund terms for the trip? Are there any travel warnings for the place I am going? Do I have enough out-of-country travel insurance to get me back to Ontario if I become sick or injured? If I book my trip with my credit card, do I get additional insurance protection?

Taking the time to ask the right questions when planning your trip can save you a lot of headaches later on if things don’t go as planned.

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