There are few things we purchase in life that hold more meaning to us than travel. When we purchase a vacation we are buying memories, connection, and experience. Those feelings simply don’t appear when you’re buying toilet paper at a local box store. It’s only natural then, that if things go wrong on our vacation, we seek to hold someone responsible. Sometimes our response is rational, and other times, because we’re so emotionally invested in our holiday, it’s possibly a little irrational. A quick review of TripAdvisor is an excellent place to find over the top reactions to holiday mishaps.
What then constitutes a legitimate vacation complaint? It’s fair to say that no airline, travel agent, or tour provider can control the weather, so if you had a week of rain, you’ll have to chalk that up to bad luck and hope for better next year. On the flip side, if you arrive at a hotel under renovation and that was not disclosed to you before you put down your hard earned money, you have recourse. Consumers who book with a TICO-registered travel agency or website are lucky to have protection.
TICO (short for Travel Industry Council of Ontario) is a self-managed, not-for-profit corporation that helps to enforce the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002, on behalf of the Provincial government. Their mission is to protect the Ontario consumer when it comes to their travel purchases by creating awareness, providing education to the consumer and the travel agent, and to investigate and facilitate disputes between you (the consumer) and TICO members. In layman’s terms, when it comes to your travel purchase, TICO has your back.
If you purchase travel through a TICO-registered Ontario travel agency or website (even if you don’t live in Ontario), then you are protected. All travel retailers and tour operators who operate in Ontario must be registered under TICO, and through doing so they have to meet strict compliance standards, including providing consumers with full disclosure. This means that when you purchase your next vacation with a TICO registered agency or website, you have protection, and as Richard Smart, President & CEO of TICO points out in the video below, why would you give up those rights?
So what constitutes a legitimate complaint with TICO?
A friend of mine recently booked a vacation with a travel agent, and was not told that the resort was under renovation. Upon arrival to the hotel, the resort was noisy and loud which was not exactly conducive to the relaxing week away she had planned for. When she returned, she complained to the travel agent, but the response was not to her liking. Through a venting session with me, I advised her to contact TICO who could help her lodge a formal complaint. This is exactly the kind of thing TICO is there for.
What else can TICO help with?
I know we’re all a little tired of Terms and Conditions. If I’m being honest, I’ve probably agreed to give my children away 100 times clicking ‘I agree’ without reading the fine print. That being said, those Terms and Conditions are crucial when it comes to your vacation purchase and if your travel provider didn’t give them to you with your receipt, then TICO can help. If you find yourself with a hidden fee or charge slipped in, TICO can also help with that. You can find a full list of what TICO can do for you and what they can’t do for you here. Spoiler alert: if the Maitre ‘D was rude to you at dinner, TICO can’t help.
The most important thing you should do before committing to any holiday is to look before you book. Ensure that the site you’re booking with has the TICO logo displayed on their site, to ensure you have consumer protection, and friend in your corner. Finally, bookmark the TICO site in your browser to so you’re armed with all the information you need to book a stress-free vacay to the destination of your dreams.