As an Experience host, you’re in control of the Experiences you offer but it’s also your responsibility to understand and follow any relevant laws and regulations. This article can serve as a starting point or place you can come back to if you have questions but please remember that it isn’t exhaustive, it doesn’t constitute legal or tax advice, and we can’t guarantee the reliability or accuracy of any source within it. It’s a good idea to check to make sure laws and procedures haven’t changed recently.
Local travel agency and other travel laws
Many countries have laws that apply to the sale of travel packages or to individuals or businesses that arrange travel on behalf of others. These laws often apply if you are offering a “package” of different types of tourism services, such as travel, accommodation, activities, and meals. If you are hosting an Adventure or other Experience that bundles these types of services together – for example, a camping trip in the Atlas Mountains that includes hiking and overnight stays – you should check whether any local travel agency or package travel laws apply to you.
The European Package Travel Directive 2015
The Package Travel Directive 2015 (“PTD”) applies to the sale of “packages” to individuals living in the European Union (“EU”), providing them with enhanced protections in relation to any “packages” they buy. If you are publishing your Experience or Adventure on Airbnb, it may be booked by Guests who are residents of European Members States.
The European Commission has published a summary of the PTD, as well as some Guidance, about the Package Travel Directive. We have also included a brief summary of the PTD below. We hope that this is a helpful starting point; if you have any doubts about whether the PTD applies to you, or what obligations you may be subject to as a result, you may want to seek advice from a legal advisor.
Each EU Member State is required to take its own steps to import the rules in the PTD into its national legal system (e.g. by passing a new law). These local rules should all be broadly similar to the PTD, but there may be slight variations and so it’s a good idea to check the position in the Member States into which you are selling your experience.
Definition of “package” under the PTD
The PTD defines “packages” as combinations of two or more travel services which fall within two or more of the following categories:
(i) transport (e.g. a flight, bus, ferry or train);
(ii) overnight accommodation;
(iii) car rental (and rental of some other vehicles); and
(iv) other tourist services (e.g. trekking, a tour, cultural activities or some other tourist activity).
You can find out more about how the PTD defines “packages” by looking at the European Commission’s summary of the PTD or its Guidance on the PTD. If you have any questions about whether your Adventure or Experience constitutes a package, you should seek legal advice.
Obligations of organisers of packages
The PTD imposes a number of obligations on “organisers” of packages (an “organiser” is the person who puts together and arranges the package). These can be broken down into 6 broad categories:
- The organiser has to comply with certain insolvency protection requirements so that the traveller is refunded or repatriated if the organiser becomes insolvent before or during the trip to which the package relates.
- The organiser has to give certain information about the package to the traveller before the traveller books the package.
- The organiser has to include certain terms in their contract with the traveller.
- The traveller has certain legal rights against the organiser before the start of the trip to which the package relates.
- The traveller has certain legal rights against the organiser during the trip to which the package relates.
- The organiser is liable to the traveller if things go wrong during the trip to which the package relates.
What are the consequences for an organiser which does not comply with the PTD?
The consequences will vary depending on where the breach occurs, since each EU Member State will have its own enforcement rules. Typically, a breach of the PTD will be a criminal offence which may be subject to fines or other enforcement action. It may also be a civil offence which allows regulators to take action (such as seeking court orders) to prevent the breach from occurring again, or to require organisers to take certain actions to remedy the breach. Finally, a breach of the PTD may also give rise to claims from travellers for compensation arising out of the breach.