By Blake Ng — 23 Aug 2018
Updated February 2022 – No matter what type of action and adventure your company provides its customers with, it’s important to cover your ground legally. There is a certain amount of risk and liability associated with each type of tour and activity, and all tour operators should have their patrons sign a waiver for travel and tours as a form of protection.
In this article, we’ll go through every detail of waivers and liability release forms within the Experiences Industry.
Certain tour and activity businesses may place signs around their premises that warn customers of specific dangers. These signs may even state that the company isn’t liable for any damages that may occur during tours and activities. Unfortunately, such signs have little to no legal effects.
The proper way to avoid liabilities and lawsuits is to have a liability waiver or release form in place. Liability waivers and release forms ensure that a customer acknowledges the risks involved in participating in certain tours and activities, and waives their right to sue your business from injuries sustained from the activity.
Now, you may think that having a waiver for travel and tours or a liability release form in place covers all your bases, however, this isn’t true. Waivers shouldn’t be a substitute for liability insurance. Furthermore, lawsuits can arise from activities or accidents not covered by the waiver.
For example, your waiver may release you of liability for injuries sustained during an activity. However, the waiver might not protect you from injuries that may happen within your premises. (e.g a customer slips due to wet floors).
Operating a tour and activity business comes with a set of risks and challenges on a daily basis. There are many uncontrollable risks that no one can foresee. And depending on the nature of the tours and activities, there are certain risks that are more obvious than others.
Water rafting, for instance, entails a number of risks that are hard to predict. However, sudden and jolting movements are usually expected. These movements can often cause injuries to the neck and shoulder, which most people are already aware of.
It would make sense that operators will not be held responsible for common injuries most people are familiar with. Especially when they are willingly taking part. However, there are instances where people get injured and want compensation for it. This is where a waiver comes in handy.
A lack of a waiver leaves operators at risk of being sued or summoned to court for a lengthy legal battle. This results in a costly process that involves huge legal fees to defend lawsuits and to pay for damages sustained.
You should start by researching the various types of liability releases and disclaimers that are usable in court. According to Travel Agent Central, there are two main types of disclaimers that can be used by people in the travel industry:
The most common disclaimer used by those in the tourism industry is the third party disclaimer, which states the services that will be provided by the company and informs the customer that the company is not responsible for any loss, theft, damage or personal injury that occurs during a particular tour or activity.
The agent negligence disclaimer imposes an obligation on all parties involved (i.e operator and customer) to avoid harm to a person that you ought to know could suffer damage or loss from certain particular actions without the need to
In other words, an agent negligence disclaimer allows operators to not have to proactively warn another person of an ‘obvious risk’, nor is an operator liable for harm suffered by another as a result of inherent risk or an obvious risk in relation to a recreational activity.
Agent negligence disclaimer can be more difficult to craft. It is often necessary to meet certain requirements before the disclaimer can be considered legally valid. It might be best to avoid this type of disclaimer when creating a liability release form.
If you prefer to write your own liability release, contact a lawyer to complete the language for you. A legal professional can consult with you about the various activities you offer and your legal needs as a business.
The National Tour Association recommends that tour operators include an Assumption of Risk and a Liability Release portion of their form:
While it provides these recommendations, the NTA notes that all tour businesses should have their own legal counsel craft and review their legal documentation and forms.
Many tour companies use third-party contractors to provide their guests with a particular excursion. If that is the case for your company, contact the third-party supplier about their own liability release forms. You may be able to use their form for your guests.
In the event that you and the third-party supplier intend to use the same forms, ensure that all parties are aware that your customers will use the forms. Have legal counsel from both your company and the third-party contractor review the form and decide if it is the best choice for your business.
Some trade associations will provide their members with liability release form waivers.
For instance, the diving trade association, PADI, offers its members a liability release form.
The waiver that is provided by PADI addresses several different issues throughout the form:
Having your industry association set the standards of the waiver will give you (and your customers) greater confidence that nothing has been left out.
Now that you understand the importance of waivers, especially for tour and activity operators, it’s time to make your own. When creating your waiver, you want to ensure that you capture the main important details. These details should include the 4 W’s and 1 H – who, what, when, where, how.
A waiver may detail any injuries or accidents that may have happened in the past. It can also describe any potential injuries that may occur based on assumptions. This allows operators to protect their business based on past experiences and assumptions of future events.
To further solidify your waiver for travel and tours, you can also add one of these additional provisions:
A liability release form is an important part of any tour and activity business, as it protects you legally and helps to limit the amount of liability you take on. This can help with your insurance costs and ultimately allow you to increase your profit margin.
It’s important to inform your guests of the liability release form at the time of booking. Remind your customers that they should take the time to read over the form and agree to its terms and conditions before signing the paperwork. This is a legally-binding document, and your patrons should be aware of its significance.
Once you have a liability release crafted for your business, make sure you collect a signed copy from every single customer. This will allow you to relax and enjoy the process of providing your customers with the experience of a lifetime!
Liability release forms and waivers are extremely important to protecting your business. However, creating and using liability waivers can be extremely time-consuming. Rezdy is all about helping you save time.
That’s why we’ve got an exclusive offer for Rezdy customers. Wherewolf is the leading digital waiver solution, they’ll help you craft your waiver and manage them digitally! The $1500 WhereWolf setup fee will be waived for any Rezdy customer signing up for an annual contract. Click here to redeem.
Once your business has made a waiver for travel and tours, it‘s crucial to make sure your customers are prepared before the trip. Using a booking software like Rezdy not only gives you useful features such as real-time availability viewer, integration to over 20 payment gateways, distribution channels to thousands of resellers, and detailed reporting tools to understand your business’ performance, but it also allows you to send automatic email communications to all your customers.
Rezdy’s automatic email communication feature allows you to send waivers automatically via email. You can simply create the email template, set the timeframe (i.e 3 days before the booking), and attach the waiver to the email. The waiver will then be automatically sent to your customers based on the timeframe you’ve set. This allows your customers to come to the booking prepared. On the other hand, it will save you heaps of time spent on following up and reminding your customers to fill out the waiver prior to their booking.
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