Travel Agency Duty: Care, Loyalty, Investigation, and Warning

The Duty of Care of a Travel Agency

A travel agency sells and books trips on behalf of customers. It is a service business and, as such, owes its clients a duty of care. However, this duty is not based on Ohio law. Rather, it is based on case law from other jurisdictions.

Moreover, Ohio law does not place a duty upon a travel agent to investigate and/or warn its clients of potential dangers.

Duty of care

Travel managers and their employees are often concerned about liability for injury or death to travelers while on business. That worry can be diminished if travel agencies recognize the duty of care they owe their customers. This is based on the fiduciary relationship created when a travel agent accepts bookings for travel on behalf of his customers. Even if that agency analyses is de novo and treats the travel wholesaler or tour operator as an independent contractor, the travel agent may be required to exercise reasonable care in selecting such contractors, Restatement (Second) of Torts sec. 411. Travel agencies also have a duty not to make misrepresentations regarding the safety of tours.

Duty of loyalty

As the name suggests, this duty requires that all decisions made or actions taken by directors should benefit the company and further its mission. They must also act in good faith and avoid any conflict of interest, disclosing such conflicts immediately if they exist.

However, the scope of this duty is a little less clear than the duties of care and investigation. For example, while a travel agent might not be required to investigate a risky destination, they should not neglect to warn their customers of the dangers of ignoring local advice. This is particularly important when it comes to business travellers, who might be at risk of personal safety if they ignore advice given by their employer. For example, it is generally recommended that business travellers avoid drinking alcohol in public places to prevent the risk of robbery.

Duty of investigation

The defendant travel agency specialized in college tours. One of its students was traveling on a train billed as a party train for spring break when it derailed. The decedent was thrown between the cars and died. The plaintiff’s claim was that the defendant owed the decedent a duty to conduct reasonable investigation of the tour operator and disclose material facts about it.

Courts have held that a travel agent owes the consumer a duty to investigate and disclose information about conditions that could affect the consumers’ trip. This includes the financial stability of the tour operators and suppliers. However, it is not a duty to investigate every possible condition that might adversely impact the consumer’s trip. For example, it would be unreasonable for a travel agent to warn a customer of the crime rate in their destination just because there is a chance that a crime could occur. This is because the agent is not in control of those events.

Duty of warning

The question in this case is whether defendants owed a duty to warn plaintiffs of the danger of traveling to the Bahamas. The Court finds that the answer is no. Unless special circumstances exist, a travel agency does not have the obligation to investigate or warn customers of potential vacation sites. In this case, no special circumstance exists and the Court declines to impose such a duty on defendants.

The plaintiff argues that the travel agent’s duty to disclose negative information about a destination is the same as an innkeeper’s duty to give a patron information about his hotel. However, this argument ignores the fact that a travel agent’s relationship with a consumer is different from that of an innkeeper because a travel agent does not make lodging reservations and instead only provides transportation and sightseeing tours. This makes it difficult for a jury to determine the extent of an agent’s duty in this situation.

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