Recommended practices for bookings and cancellations

So as to ensure a level playing field and to have clear policies and practices to ensure consistent application for wholesale and retail travel agent partners as well as our visitors, FHTA has devised these recommended best practices for bookings and cancellations.

It is a requirement of the Code of Ethics that Members adhere to these policies as much as is practicable and commercially viable for each business. Not all recommendations will be applicable to all businesses and this is not meant to be overly prescriptive. However, it should give some indication as to the specifics of what is meant by good faith and fair dealing in business practices.

Commercial realities will require variance from these practices in some cases. The variance should be reasonable and justifiable and in all cases the terms and conditions should be clearly set forth for the customer. This list is not intended to be exhaustive.

1. ADVANCE PAYMENT

1.1 The hotelier may require an advance payment either as a reservation fee or a guarantee deposit as a condition of acceptance of the reservation.

1.2 The reservation fee or guarantee deposit will be deducted from the final account but will not be reimbursed in case of late cancellation.

2. NO SHOWS

2.1 A hotel room must be available for the client no later than 3 p.m. on the day of arrival until 6 p.m. of the same day, unless the reservation is guaranteed or a late arrival is specified.

2.2 If a hotelier accepts a booking, he must keep a room or rooms available for the client until 6 p.m. on the scheduled day of arrival. After 6 p.m. he may dispose of the room (or rooms).

2.3 If the client does not arrive at the hotel after 6 p.m., it will constitute a no-show.

2.4 All no-shows whose accommodation has been confirmed will be charged for the entire length of stay.

3. OVER-BOOKINGS

3.1 In cases of over-bookings caused by the hotel, the hotel concerned shall take full
responsibility, arrange suitable alternative accommodation, provide the necessary
transfers and, in cases of cheaper accommodation being provided, “refund the difference in tariffs or equivalent in other services”. It is also the duty of the hotelier to advise the agent concerned of the guest’s amended arrangements.

3.2 All properties should take the utmost care in preventing over-booking due to negligence.

4. CANCELLATION

4.1 The terms and time-limits governing total or partial cancellation of the hotel contract, together with the amount of any compensation due in the event of cancellation, shall be agreed upon at the time of confirmation. The hotelier shall clearly define its cancellation policy for the period concerned.

4.2 Cancellation must be made in writing and dated, either by letter, fax, e-mail or other recognized form of written communication. If a cancellation is to take effect from the date of a verbal communication, the written confirmation shall refer expressly to it.

4.3 It is recommended that cancellations are valid and be penalty free if made between 45 to 30 days in advance, assuming notification is received by the hotel no later than 30 days. Any notification received thereafter should carry the cancellation or penalty fee. This policy should be clearly specified on the contracts.

4.4 It is recommended that compensation be fixed according to the following criteria. However, other commercially viable options may be employed as long as the cancellation policy is clearly defined:

4.4.1 Cancellation received within 30 days – one night cancellation fee for each room booked

4.4.2 Cancellation received within seven days but prior to day of arrival – two nights cancellation fee for each room booked

4.4.3 Cancellation received on the day of arrival should be treated as a no-show and entire length of stay should be charged.

5. GROUP DEPOSIT PROCEDURE

5.1 It is recommended that group bookings (normally defined as a minimum of 15 paying guests), are to be subject to the following procedures where economically and operationally practical. however, other commercially viable options may be employed as long as they are clearly defined:

5.1.1 Space for group bookings may be blocked without confirmation on the basis of 10% deposit of total business received at any time prior to the periods of revision, i.e. 120 days, 90 days, 60 days. Written confirmation of space blocked shall be given upon the receipt of 10% or one (1) night’s deposit for each room, whichever is greater.

5.1.2 At 60 days prior to arrival, a progress report must be provided and 50% of all unsold rooms will automatically be cancelled.

5.1.3 At 30 days prior to arrival, a complete rooming list, together with a further deposit of 50% of the balance of accommodation charges, must be provided and all unsold rooms shall be released for sale. Rooms covered by the rooming list shall be covered by the normal cancellation policy.

5.1.4 Balance of all accommodation charges must be paid before or upon arrival.

5.1.5 The hotelier should offer free accommodation equivalent to a half twin for every 15 full paying rooms.

6. VOUCHERS

6.1 Airline Bookings : Airline bookings shall be treated as request only and are not confirmed until such time as a voucher or deposit is received.

6.2 Travel Agents : Travel agents’ vouchers or email or other form of irrefutable confirmation must be received not later than fourteen (14) days prior to the arrival of the guests.

7. EDUCATIONALS

7.1 Local or overseas educationals and familiarisations (Tourism Fiji, SOFTA, PATA, etc.) should receive complimentary rooms where commercially viable with all requests subject to the acceptance of each individual property and availability. For familiarisations organised by Tourism Fiji, properties are recommended to accept Exchange of Checks (EoC) where commercially viable. Food and beverage should be the responsibility of each originating sponsor or individual participant. The hotel should not be forced or be put in the position of having to provide meals, cocktail parties or welcome drinks. However, hotels are not discouraged from doing so in a responsible manner if they so desire.

7.2 All hotels and properties should be given the opportunity to participate in these educational and familiarisation tours by offering accommodation or other means.

8. COMMISSION

8.1 The hotel’s policy regarding commissions should be clearly stated and agreed upon by the travel agent before or at the time of the original confirmation.

8.2 Normal agents’ commission shall be 10% and shall be charged on accommodation only.

8.3 It is recognized that all hotels shall have the right to negotiate nett rates with wholesalers who package their products.

8.4 It is also recognized that all hotels shall have the right to change their rates in event of significant currency fluctuation.

8.5 Hoteliers shall take care to protect agents for commission earned by Pay Own Way (P.O.W.) guests, provided the booking is made by an agent.

8.6 Hoteliers should also pay commission to the agent for any period of extended stay – based on rack rate or negotiated rate unless contract rate applies.

9. DISCOUNT

9.1 Travel industry personnel on vacation or on unsponsored visits may be given the appropriate discount depending upon availability of space.

9.2 Agents on prearranged familiarization tours shall be discounted at the discretion of the hotel on the advice of the wholesaler or sponsor concerned.

10. DOUBLE BOOKINGS (PROTECTING SPACE)

10.1 To prevent double booking or protecting space, any agent known to use these methods should be reported to FHTA for proper communication and official advice.

11. PUBLICISED TARIFF AMENDMENTS

11.1 As much notice as possible shall be given to tariff amendments.

12. EXCHANGE RATES

12.1 A daily exchange rate of four (4) cents per dollar less than the current bank rate should be given. This rate may be varied in times of financial uncertainty.

13. PAYMENT OF ACCOUNT DUE

13.1 That in all cases agents be advised that contract rates will not be honoured unless accounts are settled within thirty (30) days of date of settlement.

14. BROCHURE SUPPORT

14.1 Payment of brochure support should not be encouraged automatically. FHTA does not encourage its members to finance brochure support either by means of money, free rooms or additional commission to wholesalers and airlines.

15. DIVERS AND DIVE SERVICES

15.1 The Association requires that all divers operating out of any hotel, resort or other dive operation are to be properly certified or qualified to conduct such activities. Where applicable, the requisite refresher courses should be undertaken by the diver(s).

15.2 Divers should be qualified to perform first aid and be able to capably react to any such situation where first aid may be required. The diver(s) should always ensure that all requisite safety equipment is up to date with regard to maintenance and servicing. The same should be readily available at any time there is a diving activity.

15.3 All divers should be well versed in the emergency protocols and procedures applicable to the dive services they provide.

15.4 All dive operators, irrespective of whether this is by way of a hotel, resort or other operator, should have valid insurance coverage, which should include public liability insurance.

15.5 All dive operators, who are members’ of the Association, should have their qualifications and practice verified via the Association as this can be done in a timely and much more cost efficient manner.

16. DISASTERS

16.1 The Association requires that all hoteliers have suitable plans in place for natural and manmade disasters, including, but not limited to, fire, tsunami, cyclone, and flooding.

16.2 The Secretariat of the Association and/or the Ministry of Tourism should be notified as soon as possible after any damage is incurred or any other issue that might affect the health and safety of guests. The Association does not accept any liability for assistance granted or for any that it is unable to offer.

16.3 As soon as practicable before, during, and after any disaster the Secretariat will communicate national plans and infrastructure condition updates in concert with the National Disaster Management Office and other relevant authorities and stakeholders.

16.4 From time to time the Association and/or Ministry of Tourism may request situation and/or condition reports and requests that responses are provided in a timely manner.

16.5 Based on the severity of the disaster and the extent of damage, the Association will issue advice surrounding cancellations, re-bookings, and stranded passengers. However, the following baseline should apply in cases where a state of emergency has been declared. However, other commercially viable options may be utilised as long as they are clearly
defined:

16.5.1 For Guests who have not yet arrived in the country:

16.5.1.1.1 Should Guests postpone their travel i.e. rebook for new dates; then no cancellation fees apply. (Postponements valid for arrivals until approximately one week following the disaster)

16.5.2 For Guests who are in the country and No Shows:

16.5.2.1.1 Failure to arrive at the booked hotel should be treated as per the hotel’s normal cancellation/no show policy. Guests should be able to claim against their travel insurance. If they have no travel insurance, that is their conscious decision and they take the risk.

16.5.3 For Island Properties:

16.5.3.1.1 Consideration should be given to advise guests of possible transfer restrictions as a result of stop sail orders that may be given. These orders may be with little notice and may restrict guests’ ability to arrive and/or depart your island and Fiji. Properties with guests due to arrive and/or depart during the time of this threat should consider a voluntary option of transferring guests to the mainland. Properties may consider furnishing affected guests with a letter to assist with travel insurance, and should assist with mainland hotel bookings.

16.5.4 Under no circumstances should a hotel or other tourism provider participate in “price gouging” before, during, or after a disaster and should not charge more than the published “rack rate” for any goods or services.

Effective Date 27 September, 2013