New principles for two-price comparative advertising

AFTA to adopt new advertising guidelines for ATAS members

The Australia Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has released new Advertising Guidelines for ATAS Participants aimed at cracking down on misleading two-price comparison costs.

Approved by the AFTA Board, the guidelines form part of the mandatory requirement for ATAS accreditation. An amnesty period of three months applies for ATAS accredited members to implement any required changes to their business. AFTA will conduct a number of webinars on the topic for those who would like to learn more.

The move aims to have ATAS members comply with legislative rules defined in the Australian Consumer Law, regulated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

AFTA says much of the content of the guidelines is extracted from publications and the website of the ACCC and seeks to highlight those obligations that affect the travel industry. These obligations have always formed part of the Eligibility Criteria for ATAS accreditation.

In addition to the guidance set by the ACCC, AFTA have clarified two specific areas affecting the travel industry. These two clarifications clarify the standard required for ATAS accreditation and by doing so, seeks to protect ATAS accredited entities from ACCC enforcement and legal action.

Extract from the AFTA Advertising Guidelines

Key highlights

1. Two-price comparison
The use of the words “typically” and “valued at” in advertising is deemed to be a two-price comparison and the principles of two-price comparative advertising are to apply.

Advertisers need to retain records and be able to substantiate the offer whether that be to the ATAS Compliance Manager or the ACCC. This includes:

  • Records of how long the product was offered for sale at the “was” price (or typically or valued at)
  • What other prices were offered during that period
  • How many sales were made at the “was” or “typically or valued at” price and how many sales were made at other prices

2. Component Pricing
When advertising prices to customers, advertisers should state the total price. If you promote a price that is only part of the total price of goods or services, you must also include the total price (as a single figure) at least as prominently as the part price. Components that are required to be included are:

  • A tax, duty, fee, levy or charge payable by the consumer for the supply (and use) of the travel
  • Resort fees
  • Mandatory gratuities
  • Direct payments required to a third party operator

The advertising guidelines are available on the AFTA website here. Further details can also be obtained from the ACCC website.

AFTA will host two webinars on the topic on 19 February and 18 March 2020. To register for the webinar, go to afta.com.au/advertising-guidelines

Any member questions or feedback can be directed to Naomi Menon Head of Compliance and Operations at AFTA at naomi@afta.com.au

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