30 Apr

ABTA's 17th Annual Travel Law Seminar, It’s a changing world…

The industry’s essential Travel Law Seminar took place on 28-29 April and was sponsored by ABTA Partner, K&L Gates. There were a buzzing 150 or so people in a full conference room.

The world is changing. 2015 will be one of the most significant years in travel industry law and regulation with the introduction of the new Package Travel Directive, developments to the ATOL Scheme and changes to the way customer complaints must be dealt with.

Delegates arrived on Tuesday to an introduction to the Seminar by Simon Bunce, Head of Legal Services at ABTA and it was then straight into a comprehensive session on the new Package Travel Directive – who’s in and who’s out; what you need to do to sell holidays; who will be liable and for what under the new Directive.

A look at some of the new business models, such as Airbnb, and at the increasingly IT-based means of distribution showed how even the newest regulations are stretched in such a dynamic industry.

With a, perhaps welcome, diversion off into the realms of new employment laws – shared parental leave and holiday pay were discussed, it was then back into the never-ending saga of TOMS reform and consumer rights.

On Wednesday, Seminar delegates were saddened to hear of the death of Peter Stewart of Fieldfisher. Peter had presented many informed, entertaining and often provocative sessions at the Seminar over the years.

Fittingly, the morning was devoted to an overview of financial protection both under the current rules and looking ahead to the future.

The new requirements for offering Alternative Dispute Resolution to customers with complaints were explained and then a panel of experts looked into the role that social media can play for travel companies both from a marketing point of view and also for communications in crisis situations - situations which seem to arise more frequently as travellers choose to visit more exotic destinations.

The Seminar closed in traditional fashion with a light-hearted review of the travel cases that had hit the courts in the past 12 months.

All in all, a challenging two days for delegates with much detail to absorb but, hopefully, much knowledge gained that they are able to use in their travel businesses.

Topic covered throughout the two days:

  • The new Package Travel Directive and what it will mean for you
  • Current and future requirements for financial protection and the ATOL Scheme
  • The sharing economy and new trading models – Can the law keep up?
  • Selling online and fair competition – pricing, data and content
  • TOMS and VAT update
  • Another year of change for employers
  • Consumer protection changes
  • How can you use and control social media
  • Managing your risk in a dangerous world
  • Dealing with claims through alternative dispute resolution and the courts
  • The essential case law update.

Speakers included:

Simon Bunce, ABTA; Pete Baxter, TUI Travel PLC; Maria Pittordis, Hill Dickinson; Alex Padfield, Hextalls; Neil Baylis, K&L Gates; Rebecca Thornley-Gibson, ASB Law; David Bennett, Elman Wall Bennett; Ian Skuse, Piper Smith Watton; Tom Mitchell, MB Law; David Moesli, CAA; Stephen Mason, Travlaw; Stephen Powton, Department for Transport; Susan Deer, Cosmos Holidays; Sue Barham, Holman Fenwick Willan; Sophie Arrowsmith, Hamlins; Claire Mulligan, Kennedys; Sarah Prager, 1 Chancery Lane and more.