CATO standardises bookings T&Cs

Reforms aim to align policies used by land-supply members

In a landmark best-practice move, the Council of Australian Tour operators (CATO) has – in conjunction with travel law specialist lawyers, Pointon Partners – developed a set of standard agreements and policies for adoption by its land-supply sector member base.

The agreements available exclusively to CATO Members include Industry Standard Booking Terms and Conditions, short-form Supplier Agreements and a Privacy Policy, all written specifically for Australian-based tour operators and wholesalers.

During CATO’s extensive COVID-related advocacy engagement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), a particular area of focus identified as inconsistent and in need of reform through standardisation was Booking Terms and Conditions (T&C’s).

“A real challenge in our lobbying and consultation efforts with regulators and the media during the COVID crisis has been that the variation across operators T&C’s, so consistency of messaging has been difficult,” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

Brett Jardine, Managing Director, Council of Australian Tour Operators
Brett Jardine, Managing Director, Council of Australian Tour Operators

An outcome from CATO’s advocacy in recent months has been a proposal to develop a “core set of standard T&C’s” that are consistent across the industry, better aligned with obligations under Australian Consumer Law, and will help tour operators and wholesalers mitigate future risk.

“Once adopted by the majority of CATO Members, this will provide consistent delivery of best practice for all concerned, and enable operators to take collective positions if an event like this pandemic ever arose again,” said Jardine.

In addition to the industry standard T&C’s, CATO is making available to members a standard short form supplier agreement and a privacy policy relevant to the land-supply sector.

CATO’s best-practice standardisation project is now complete, and assets are available for roll-out under licence to CATO Members.

“With purse-strings understandably tight during these trying times, CATO has kept licence fees to a minimum – significantly less than having them drafted independently. Right now, ensuring your operating structure is in the best possible position for the post-COVID recovery is a sensible course of action,” Jardine added.

Pointon Partners will provide a complimentary 30-minute consultation with CATO Members that adopt the new CATO Standard Booking Terms and Conditions to determine if additional bespoke T&C’s are required for specific organisational needs.

To take advantage of CATO’s best-practice project and be part of a positive change for the land-supply sector, Australian-based tour operators and wholesalers are encouraged to contact CATO directly.

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