There is currently no EU-wide legislation for the hotel sector when it comes to regulating consumer rights for individual direct bookings with hotels, but consumers can avail of some of the protections under the European Commission’s Unfair Commercial Practices Directive when they book hotel accommodation outside of their country of residence. Some countries have their own national regulations for the hotel sector which will also apply to reservations. The aforementioned Directive applies only to individual accommodation reservations and not those within a package holiday.
Unfair practices refer to actions undertaken by hotel services providers that have misled or deceived customers in some way. Hotel owners accommodation managers and guesthouse-type property owners need to comply with basic obligations when it comes to their customers and also must comply with specific national regulations relating to their industry.
Businesses that advertise their hotel and hospitality services have to comply with the general principles of acceptable advertising, i.e. the advertising must be legal, honest and truthful, and not misleading in any way. They must always provide clear and accurate information about the property, booking conditions and total cost of the reservation upfront. Businesses must display tax-inclusive prices of goods and services offered to consumers.
In normal times, when no extraordinary circumstances such as the mass COVID-19-related global disruption come into play, the terms of your direct reservation with the hotel apply to all contracts, changes and cancellations. Where you have made a booking through a third-party website, your contract is still with the individual hotel, but the price you have paid on the third-booking website might come with some restrictions. It is advisable that before proceeding with any hotel accommodation bookings that you read the Terms and Conditions of both the hotel in question and the booking platform, where applicable. If you have booked through a booking engine such as booking.com, hotels.com or trivago.com, review the entire booking information on refunds or rescheduling, as well as the conditions on having to pay penalties for changes and cancellations. The Terms and Conditions will also give details of reimbursement in cash and reimbursement through vouchers. Alternatively, in case of cancellations, if used a credit card to pay for your hotel accommodation service, contact your credit card company to check if the “chargeback policy” applies.
Where Irish consumers experience issues with a hotel in another EU/EEA country, the European Consumer Centre Ireland can assist and follow up with the accommodation provider or booking platform, if needed. Where unforeseen or extraordinary circumstances come into play, the European Commission published its guidance and recommendations here.