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This is the blog area for Adventure Engine. Here you will find articles about marketing, business and other interesting happenings in adventure travel. There are also links to articles on product release updates, “how to’s” and other user information. You can use the drop down menu above under “Tips and News” to get different categories, or you may also type keywords into the search bar to the right to filter articles with those words. If you click the article title, it will open a separate page with that article alone.
Many if not all tour operators now make use of some kind of online terms and conditions to make sure their clients understand the payment and cancellation rules. A common condition of sale is that the customer must acknowledge and accept the company’s waiver of liability, releasing the company from any responsibility should some kind of incident take place while on the tour or activity. But, just how legal are these waivers, online or offline? I decided to do some research and found some surprising information.
How do operators protect themselves from claims seeking damages for people that were injured when taking part in activities they knew were inherently risky? Skiing is a good example. There are so many accidents waiting happen when you strap on a pair slippery, awkward boards to your feet, for the ultimate purpose of sliding down an icy steep hill with bumps, rocks, trees, and other obstacles right in your path. Nobody puts a gun to your head to do this, in fact people line up for it. Operators rely on the use of waivers of liability as their defense against a law suit should someone seek damages. Is this really a legally enforceable document?
In British Columbia, there was an article published by Carters Professional Corporation about a zipline operator that was sued when two people collided. The plaintiffs brought suit against the operator but the courts upheld the operator’s defense which was the waiver. This review is well worth a read to understand what might happen in BC.
On the website Canadian-Lawyers.ca there is a somewhat different report from 2010. They state,
” The waiver of liability seems to have entered all levels of organized recreational and athletic activities. Without signing a waiver, you are unlikely to be allowed to participate in any activity outside of your own back yard. The reality is that many of the waivers proffered by organized recreational and athletic activity providers would not be enforced by Ontario courts. These courts have a history of approaching waivers with great caution. In 2008, two trial court decisions deviated from this long-standing trend. In Cejvan v. Blue Mountain Resorts Ltd.,  O.J. No. 5442, a snowboarder was denied compensation for his injuries when he struck snow-covered steel pipes on a groomed run. In Isildar v. Kanata Diving Supply,  O.J. No. 2406, the dependents of a man killed during a scuba diving instructional course were denied damages for their loss of the deceased’s care, guidance, and companionship. Notwithstanding findings of negligence in both cases, damages were denied because of waivers.”
Things are much different in New Zealand where the state covers costs for injuries. Under the heading”Am I Covered?” is the following text,
“Everyone in New Zealand has 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, no-fault comprehensive injury cover through ACC. Find out what is and isn’t covered, and what happens if you’re injured while travelling overseas or visiting New Zealand.” There is a section at the bottom of this linked page for operators and self employed individuals to get into the system.
In the United States, online contracts were recognized by the Clinton government. On their website Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance state ”
A waiver/release agreement has two primary protective purposes:
- Contractual exculpation, which uses contract law principles (waivers and releases are contracts) to excuse a sports organization for its simple negligence; and
- Providing real evidence of the sports organization’s warning of inherent and other risks thereby triggering the common-law assumption of risk (AOR) defense under tort law.
The article is quite detailed and points out that while many states uphold waivers, there are some that will not.
John Wolohan, Professor of Sports Law, Dept of Sports Management, Syracuse University writes in a 2014 article,
“We have all heard the warnings that waivers are not worth the paper they are printed on, and while it is true that some courts do not like waivers and will void them if possible, in must be noted that in at least 45 states a well-written waiver, signed by an adult, is the most effective tool available to sport and recreation providers and their employees against a negligence lawsuit. With the myth of the effectiveness of waivers still around, it is therefore not surprising that some sport and recreation providers are concerned about the legal impact of online or electronic waivers. For example, if a sport and recreation program requires its’ participants to go online and sign a waiver before being allowed to participate in the event, will it carry the same legal weight as off-line or traditional paper waivers?”
The Law Depot website in the UK gives some insight into the situation there in this article ‘Release or Waiver Agreement FAQ” They start by defining what a release is.
A release agreement is an enforceable promise not to proceed with a legal claim in exchange for money or other compensation. Essentially, a party (the releasee) gives money or other consideration to a second party (the releasor). In exchange, the releasor agrees not to sue, press charges, or otherwise take legal action against the releasee.”
What do you think about having an online waiver that your clients use a check box to agree to your terms, conditions and waivers of liability?
We’d love to learn and we’ve created on online survey to give us a little insight into what operators might want. We’d like to invite you to take only minute or two to fill it out. You can access the page link to the survey here.
Do you deal with the British, US or and Canadian markets? You may be surprised to learn that there are both subtle and distinct differences in how people research and book travel in these markets.
In a recent study, Expedia Media Solutions researched just how different the markets are and some key points emerged. Here are high level observations.
- Even though mobile searches have grown in all three markets, Canada shows the least growth. Why is this? The answer may be because of the more complex planning and expense required for long haul travel. The key bit of information here is that in both the UK and America, mobile growth for online content consumption out paced desktop, but in Canada desktop is still ahead. In all cases, content is being sought across multiple devices, so digital design and communication must be geared to flow across the channels.
- Brits spend more minutes engaging with travel content on desktop, while Americans do the reverse. Canadians engage more on desktop and have the largest margin between channels, while the other two countries show mobile is continuing to rise. This suggests that you can target richer content to the UK and Canadian markets but create timely offers and less detail for the US.
- If you are considering getting a mobile app, it’s a good idea, but browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer) are still the most popular way to access information across all devices. The US shows the highest use of apps of the three on mobile. Tablet users also prefer browsers by a large percentage.
- It maybe no great shock to learn that online visits to travel sites increases rapidly between the period when people first think of travelling and the time they actually book. But where do they for inspiration? Search engines ares still the most popular, so SEO for many business websites is a key factor early on.
- The share shifts when people start to narrow their choices. Search engines ares still important but friends and family drop. Searches on OTA, airline and hotel sites rise as people start to compare options. This shows that the closer to booking, people are looking at details like how to get there and what it will cost.
- What about social media? The graphic below shows that only 11 per cent of online bookers use social media and only at the early stages of the purchase path. Social media is important, but small businesses should be strategic in use. From this graph it suggests that content should be geared to inspiration and deals. Interestingly, people read articles and blogs longer into the purchase cycle suggesting that deeper information is important. A tactic may be to link your social media communication piece to your blog for more info and build a remarketing campaign from this.
- At the start of a search for travel information, how locked in is the destination?Brits and Canadians are quite a bit more likely to be considering two or more destinations than Americans. In fact, 65 per cent of American travel shoppers are only considering one destination while less than 50% each of Canadians and Brits have one place in mind.
- What destinations do most people investigate? Once again there are marked differences in choices. Canadians are research Europe, Latin America and Asia most while Americans check out their own country most, followed by Europe and then Latin America. Brits look close in as well. Fully 61 per cent of destination research is for Europe, followed by Asia and Latin America. Note that Africa outpaces Canada, Australia and New Zealand (except for Canada by Canadians) in all three countries, suggesting opportunities for product development or more robust advertising efforts to gain market share.
- How does advertising play into travel destination choice? The effectiveness of advertising on people considering two or more destinations varies from a low of 27 per cent of Americans to 38 per cent for Canadians. So, according to the study, roughly one third of shoppers can be influenced by advertising.
- The most influential time to advertise appears to be earlier on in the process. What needs to learned now though is what kind of advertising is the most influential. Given that OTA’s are searched consistently along the path to purchase, cost is probably a key factor in decision making. So it may be very worthwhile to offer price point or sale pricing or coupon information if your product is a deciding component of a trip. A good offer or package price might be the trigger to click on an ad. Build a remarketing campaign that strategically follows your prospects and lead them to an online booking event. This is exactly the kind of process matching perfectly with Adventure Engine. Plan your landing page and the structure of the offer with the call to action and start to influence the path to purchase in your favour. Be there. Make it easy.
Adventure Engine is different because of the variety of functions available across many different business models. We constantly tweak the Adventure Engine to improve processes and we also develop new functions to add on. We are considering adding a function that some members have asked for but would like your feedback and input to understand the demand. This is where you get to help us. This is a very short survey of 7 questions to help us get an idea of what matters to you. This is an anonymous survey so we won’t be pestering you afterwords with a sales pitch, but.. if there is something you’d like to talk to us about please contact us.
Travel Marketing columnist for MediaPost, Verena Thompson, reported in an article June this year, “We’re seeing unprecedented changes in the world of travel and tourism, from the emergence of the “sharing economy” to the rise of the millennial traveller. “
She goes on to say, “To answer that question, we discussed the latest developments in the travel industry with vacationers, business travelers, industry experts, and working professionals throughout the United States and Latin America. ” Some key points:
Today’s travelers are open, spontaneous, and fearless. So how can you get them in your camp? By embracing flexibility and celebrating consumer choice.
Vacations aren’t just vacations anymore. They’re opportunities for enrichment. Today’s travelers want fresh educational experiences to prepare them for life in an increasingly interconnected society.
“Tourist” is a four-letter word. Focus on forging one-on-one interactions between travelers and locals.
Today’s voyagers want to create unique travel experiences that can’t be duplicated. They discover and express their individuality at every point along their journey. When selling to these travelers, think of it this way: it’s not about products. It’s about purpose. What kind of experience does your brand offer? Can you feel it, tell a story about it, or capture it in a picture?
From Nest to Netflix, we’re accustomed to hyper-personalized digital experiences at home, at work, and even on vacation. So how can you make the most of the information you already have?(Excerpted from the article, The New World of Travel 06/07/16 on MediaPost.com) In another post on our website we reported on how millenneial traveller choices were different.
So, it also begs the question: what we can do to personalize your booking service and CRM for the Millennial Traveller?
We’ve found that certain enhanced features of our res system can help, which is why Adventue Engine continues to be a leader in technology for tourism. For example, allowing your guests to log in to update profiles makes it easier for everyone to keep track of everything from disabilities to dietary constraints. Sending out automated email follow ups “x” months after a trip is a lot better than a generic e-newsletter. We can also offer custom language shopping carts and choices for how you price in different currencies.
These types of features, along with Adventure Engine’s ability to be customised for our operators, makes it a great choice for small and large businesses alike. Contact us to get some ideas of how we can help you serve your customers more personally.