Hotel reception bell Image: Wasant/shutterstock

Deficiencies at your holiday hotel

The hotel room is dirty or not available, instead of a "fine sandy beach" you find a rocky bay and instead of the longed-for peace and quiet you are tormented by annoying construction noise.

Especially during the peak travel season, we receive an increasing number of complaints from holidaymakers whose stay did not turn out quite as expected. But what can you do if you have problems on holiday? We provide information on the options available to consumers.

Advantages of package travel deals

As a package holidaymaker, you have a single contractual partner for the entire package, namely the tour operator.

In addition, one is legally better protected than an individual traveller with regard to a possible insolvency.

Piktogram about "Package Holidays"

Package Holidays

The tour operator must - irrespective of whether he is at fault for any defects or not - be liable for the services he has promised in the booking confirmation.

However, it is worthwhile to read the hotel descriptions with a critical eye before booking. For "seaside" does not automatically mean "with sea view", a "beautiful beach" is not per se a "sandy beach" and a hotel in a "convenient location" should better not be considered at all by noise-sensitive tourists.

If the accommodation in the hotel is not part of a package tour, the hotel itself is the contractual partner of the traveller. If the hotel is located outside the EU, enforcing rights - especially out of court - can be difficult in practice.

Mängel sofort melden

Defects should be reported immediately to the tour operator on site. The contact details should be available in a folder in the hotel or in the booking documents. It is not sufficient to complain only at the hotel reception.

If you do not report the defect immediately, but only later or even after the holiday, any claims for price reduction could be rejected.

Pictogram about "written notices"

better in writing

For reasons of proof, the complaint should be submitted in writing, i.e. by e-mail or fax.

Consumers who have booked their package tour through a travel agency can also send their complaint there. The travel agency is obliged to forward the complaint. However, we advise you to always contact the tour operator itself to be on the safe side.

Secure evidence

The deficiencies should be documented with photos and videos. We recommend this especially if the deficiency cannot be improved or remedied (e.g. because a rocky bay cannot be turned into a sandy beach).

Furthermore, you should ask the local tour guide to confirm in writing that you have reported the deficiencies accordingly.

Pictogram about "camera"

secure evidence

However, holidaymakers do not have to spend their valuable time searching for the tour operator's representative should he or she not be easily found.

Improvement must be free of charge

The tour operator must always ensure that the defect is rectified free of charge. Often, moving to another room already helps.

Consumers who want to save their holiday on their own and move to another hotel immediately are taking a risk. There is no guarantee that the costs incurred will be paid or reimbursed.

Therefore, we advise explaining to the tour operator why a move is necessary in order to receive a service comparable to the booked trip. Then a deadline should be set and it should be communicated that otherwise one will change the hotel oneself if necessary and claim back the additional costs. Again, this should be put in writing.

Demand a price reduction after return

As soon as one has returned from the holiday, one should assert the claims arising from the defective tour management as soon as possible by registered letter to the tour operator.

In the letter, the deficiencies should be described and a corresponding amount demanded.

Pictogram about "money offer"

money offer

To calculate this amount, i.e. the amount of the price reduction, one can refer to the Frankfurt List or the Zak Travel Price Reduction Table. The percentages listed in the table are not binding for companies, but they are a good guide.

Damages in case of fault

Compensation can only be claimed from the tour operator if the tour operator or its contractual partners on site are at fault for the defects. A classic example of this is an illness caused by a spoiled hotel buffet. In such a case, one is entitled to compensation for the medical costs as well as damages for pain and suffering.

However, the extent of the illness must be comprehensively documented (including a list of the sick tourists in the hotel, if applicable) and the course of the illness must be verifiable (e.g. by medical certificates).
In addition, there is the possibility of claiming compensation for lost holiday enjoyment if there were considerable deficiencies.

Vouchers do not have to be accepted

The tour operator cannot merely offer vouchers for compensation. The aggrieved consumers can insist on receiving a payout for both price reduction and damages.

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