Updated April 2023 – Once you secure a booking from a prospective traveler, the last thing you want to think about as a tour operator is a cancelation. However in order to meet the customer expectations of travelers today, you are going to need to have a flexible tour cancelation policy in place.

Most people have had to cancel a holiday sometime over the past several years due to these uncertain times, so they know that unfortunately, it could happen again. Customers will want to know that you will be flexible and understanding should they be unable to embark on your tour experience on their chosen date. Ultimately, businesses can avoid any potential problems or conflict by clearly stating their tour company cancelation policy before the customer finalizes their booking. 

What to consider when creating a cancelation policy

tour company cancelation policy

When creating a cancelation policy for your tour business, it’s important to keep in mind some of the top mistakes made by tour operators. Firstly, having a cancelation policy for tour operators that is too strict may deter potential customers from booking with you in the first place. On the other hand, having a policy that is too lenient may result in a loss of revenue for your business.

Secondly, failing to clearly communicate your tour cancelation policy to customers can lead to misunderstandings and disputes down the line. This means that it’s crucial to ensure that your policy is clearly stated on your website, in your booking confirmation emails, and in any other relevant communication with customers.

It’s also essential to consider any external factors that may impact your customers’ ability to travel, such as weather conditions or unforeseen events, and have provisions in place to address these scenarios.

Tips for creating an effective cancelation policy

Create a flexible pricing structure

If you are going to design a new cancelation policy for your travel agency that allows travelers to have more freedom when booking with you, you may want to make adjustments to your current pricing structure. If you look at the hotel industry, which is famous for its flexible cancelation policies, you will find that most rooms that can be canceled are priced slightly higher than those that cannot. You can create tour products available at different price structures, allowing travelers to select a cheaper tour without the ability to cancel or a more expensive tour that offers more flexibility.

Leverage technology to streamline cancelations and refunds

For tour operators, the process of canceling tours and refunding customers their payments can be cumbersome, which is why many put no-cancelation policies in place.

However, when you invest in booking software that allows you to easily cancel a booking, refund a payment and reallocate your resources, you can design a flexible policy that can actually increase your bookings. Rezdy is an online booking software designed specifically for the tour and activity industry, and it is the ideal option for you if you want to create a flexible cancelation policy. If you want to learn more about how to incorporate this software into your business to streamline your admin processes, you can find out more here.

Allow full refunds up to 24 hours in advance

Most travelers accept that you are not going to allow last-minute cancelations, so it’s okay if your flexible policy has a deadline in place. In today’s climate, most travel experts recommend that you allow travelers to cancel their tours and activities and receive a full refund up to 24 hours in advance of the tours. A 24-hour notice allows you time to restructure your plans for the next day, but it also gives your travelers the confidence they need to book with you.

cancelation policy (for) tour operator

Chances are, if a customer is going to have to cancel their booking, they will know within 24 hours. However, unexpected circumstances can always arise, so make sure you have a policy in place for customers who cancel their bookings within 24 hours. Will they need to be subject to a rebooking fee? Or will they only be refunded half of the cost? These are all important questions to consider when researching how to write a cancelation policy.

Offer customers the opportunity to reschedule

Sometimes, your ability to create a flexible travel agency cancelation policy will be limited by the resources that are required for your tours and activities. For instance, if your tour experience requires you to partner with other third-party vendors in your area, it may be more difficult to accommodate cancelations. In the event that it’s difficult to accommodate a full refund or cancelation, you can offer customers the opportunity to reschedule their experience with you.

Make your cancelation procedure clear and consistent

At the time of booking, your customers should know what your cancelation policy and procedure is. Some guidelines to consider for your cancelation procedure include:

  • Requiring customers to submit a cancelation request in writing.
  • Requiring customers to submit contact information when canceling their tours.
  • Requiring all cancelation requests to be submitted at least 24 hours in advance of the tour.
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What to include in a tour cancelation policy

Clear and concise language

Cancelation policies all look different, whether they be short and to-the-point, or longer and detailed. They can be included in your terms and conditions, or appear as a pop-up when a customer makes a booking on your website. For all of their differences, the telltale of a successful cancelation policy is one that is clear – both in its wording and its existence to the customer.

Clear timeframe

One of the most important elements of a tour cancelation policy is having a clear timeframe for cancelations. This ensures that both the tour operator and the customer have a shared understanding of when cancelations can occur without penalty. A well-defined timeframe can help avoid confusion, disputes, and the potential loss of revenue for the tour operator. 

Refund policy

Customers want to feel confident that they can book a tour with your company and, if something unexpected happens, they won’t be left out of pocket. A refund policy sets clear expectations for customers about what will happen in the event of a cancelation. It can also help to protect your business from potential legal disputes or negative reviews from unhappy customers.

Cancelation fees

When a customer cancels their booking at the last minute, it can be difficult for the tour operator to find a replacement, resulting in lost revenue and additional costs. By charging a cancelation fee, the tour operator can offset some of these costs and ensure that they don’t suffer a significant financial loss.

Exceptions to policy

While having a clear and well-defined tour company cancelation policy is important, it’s also important to recognize that there may be situations where exceptions to the policy are warranted. This is because every customer and every situation is unique, and a rigid policy may not always be fair or appropriate.

Notification process

Having a clear notification process in your tour cancelation policy is essential because it sets clear expectations for both the tour operator and the customer. This process outlines the steps that need to be taken in order to cancel a booking, and ensures that both parties are on the same page about what needs to happen.

A notification process can also help tour operators to manage their resources more effectively. By requiring customers to notify them of a cancelation within a certain timeframe, tour operators can free up spots for other customers and ensure that they don’t waste valuable resources on tours that won’t go ahead.

Customer service contact information

Including customer service contact information in your tour cancelation policy is recommended because it provides customers with a direct point of contact if they have any questions or concerns about the cancelation policy or their booking. This helps to ensure that customers feel supported and valued, while also allowing your business to quickly and efficiently respond to queries. 

Template: Sample cancelation policy

We’ve provided an effective cancelation policy template below:

Cancelation Policy: [Business name]

If cancelation is required, you are required to notify us at least [24 hours] prior to your booking time. Please note that cancelations made within [24 hours] will incur [a rebooking fee]. If [business name] is forced to cancel your tour due to reasons outside of our control, all prior payments will be refunded.

Creating the right tour cancelation policy is a tricky balancing act

While tour cancelation policies are becoming increasingly important to the future of tourism, you should also know that it is possible to create a policy that still allows you to grow your business.

By utilizing an advanced online booking system such as Rezdy, you’ll be able to automate your cancelation processes. Rezdy simplifies the refund process, and the notification process via automated comms. Curious to try it out for yourself? Start your FREE 21-day trial or book a demo today.

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