Coronadvice 3 - Can a travel agency offer a change of a term or other agreement?


The world is introducing more and more restrictive measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the Czech Republic, a state of emergency has been declared- we are prohibited from travelling to risk areas, schools have been closed, events with over 30 people have been banned, restaurants and other services such as gyms and wellness centres have been closed. Similar measures are also gradually being introduced in other countries. As a result of these restrictions, the demand for packaged tourism is expected to shrink considerably in the near future. Thus, travel agencies will have to cancel a lot of package tours, unless their customers have already cancelled their contracts because of fear or inability to travel.

As we have already explained in Coronadvice 1, there is only one situation in which the customer is clearly entitled to a refund of the travel price paid. In Coronadvice 2 we explained that this situation should be present at the time for which the tour is planned, and hence for May and later tours to Italy, at this time, the customer will have to pay a cancellation fee to the travel agency when cancelling the contract. In future Coronadvice, we will certainly look into situations that are unclear in terms of who bears the effects of travel restrictions issued by the Government of the Czech Republic and other states.

Amongst all this uncertainty, today, we bring some good news: "An agreement between a travel agency and its customer is always possible." The agreement makes it possible to disregard who is legally entitled, and is therefore particularly suitable in situations of dispute.

Therefore, practically speaking, the travel agency and the customer can mutually agree to resolve the situation by agreeing on, for example, changing the date of the trip. It is also possible to agree on a change of tour destination, i.e. applying the paid funds to the payment for another tour. Discounts on the purchase of a future tour are also possible. If the agreement is a tool to resolve the disputed situation, we refer to it as a settlement agreement, and its details need to be captured at least in email or other electronic communications. It is also possible to prepare one sample text and use it in communication with customers.

We have come across cases where customers have been afraid of entering into an agreement because of concerns about the bankruptcy of a travel agent and the loss of their funds. At this point we would like to inform customers that all travel agencies are insured against bankruptcy, i.e. in such a situation, the customers will certainly get their money back.

In the next article, we will talk about how to proceed with clients who have previously been charged for travel cancellations, but later it turns out that the package tour really cannot be realized.