Follow our guide below for tips on planning your next getaway and knowing your rights while holidaying.
Booking travel and accommodation
Travel and accommodation are some of the biggest purchases you make for a holiday. It’s important to be smart about what you’re booking and to know your rights if something goes wrong.
Before you book, follow our handy checklist below:
Shop around to compare prices, read reviews and talk to other travellers. There are many websites that allow you to compare travel and accommodation options online. Doing this research upfront could help you find a great deal or avoid a bad experience.
Check the licence of any business you are dealing with to avoid dishonest deals.
Plan your payments by checking when they are due. Some operators may allow you to pay in installments or closer to the date you leave, when there’s more certainty about the trip going ahead.
Check the terms and conditions of any agreement or contract, so you know what your rights are if things go wrong. This includes information about cancellations and refunds.
Terms and conditions are often included in the fine print when you book a product or service, or on a page on the business’s website. If you book through a travel agent or a third-party booking service (such as an accommodation comparison website), the terms and conditions of both the third-party and the provider apply, so you will need to check both.
It’s also important to double-check claims like “risk-free” or “100% refund guarantee” in the terms and conditions. Sometimes businesses may misrepresent your right to a refund.
In the excitement of planning an adventure, people can accidentally book the wrong day, or even year.
If you’re worried about cancellations, it may be a good idea to limit the number of destinations or travel services you use.
Some businesses won’t refund you because you make a mistake or change your mind. Find out more about what your rights are if things go wrong.
Using a travel agent?
If you’re using a travel agent to book some or all of your holiday, make sure you check their credentials. For example:
- Are they a member of a recognised industry association?
- Do they have any industry qualifications or training?
- Are they insured if they go out of business before you take your holiday?
In Australia, travel agents do not need a license, but many are part of associations and have industry qualifications or training.
If something unexpected happens during your trip, travel insurance can help to cover loss, damage or cancellation fees. Some of the things travel insurance covers are medical expenses, personal liability (for example, you cause damage to someone else’s property), loss of your baggage or travel documents.
Some countries need proof of travel insurance before they will allow you to enter. There are many websites that allow you to compare and purchase travel insurance online.
All products and services sold in Australia, including travel services, are protected by consumer guarantees. If a business sells you a product or service that doesn’t meet consumer guarantees, the business must offer you a solution.
Your rights when things go wrong
Sometimes things can go wrong during your holiday. If something happens, it pays to know your rights, including when you might get a refund.
A business must also honour the terms and conditions of any contract you agree to when you buy a product or service. The terms and conditions often contain policies on refunds, cancellations and credit vouchers. Check the terms and conditions before you make any holiday bookings.
If your travel is affected by a natural disaster, event cancellation, or COVID-19, some businesses may offer solutions, but every case is different. Check your contract terms and conditions.
If you’re a travel or tourism business, it’s important to understand your rights and obligations to consumers to make sure everyone has a good time on holiday.
Your legal obligations
All products and services sold in Australia, including travel services, are subject to Australian Consumer Law. The law states you must not:
- engage in misleading, deceptive or unconscionable conduct
- make false or misleading statements about the services you provide or your contract terms and conditions
- in the event of a cancellation, change the terms and conditions in your contract or unfairly penalise a customer.
Short-term rental accommodation hosts
If you own a short-term rental accommodation, you have additional rights and obligations that you must follow. You must also follow the Industry Code of Conduct.
Guests staying in your accommodation must also follow obligations about how they behave.
Find out more information about providing short-term rental accommodation.
Contracts and terms and conditions
The terms and conditions in your contract determine what you can do if a customer cancels their stay or otherwise negatively impacts your business.
To help you and your customers, the terms and conditions in your contract should be clearly identified and explain your policies in simple language. They should include:
- what you will do if you or the guest cancels, and the terms surrounding this (for example, how much notice you require or will give)
- whether the customer must pay cancellation fees, balloon payments or any other fees
- whether you use credit vouchers, and how you use them
- whether the terms and conditions exclude the liability of the travel provider
- any commission or referral arrangements.
If you or your customer cancels, you must honour the terms and conditions included in your contract.
If your customer is entitled to a refund, you must:
- give them the refund free of charge
- pay the refund within a reasonable timeframe
- offer the refund, before you can offer any other alternatives, such as credit vouchers
- recover money from any suppliers and refund that money to the customer, if applicable
- communicate with the customer regularly about what you are doing and how long the refund will take.
If a customer is experiencing financial hardship, or there are other exceptional circumstances, you might consider being flexible with your terms and conditions. For example, if a customer is unlikely to have an opportunity to use a credit voucher, you could choose to offer a refund even when you are not required to.
If you charge cancellation fees, or any other costs for cancelling, you should tell customers before they book. This includes explaining what the fees will be, and when they will have to pay them. If the customer asks, you should provide an itemised breakdown of any fees you charge or retain.
Do you still need help?
If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, select from one of the options below and get in touch.
Ask a question
Call us on 13 32 20 between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday or submit an online enquiry any time.
Lodge a complaint
If you’re unable to resolve the matter with the business or relevant industry body or organisation, you can contact us for help on 13 32 20 or make a complaint online.