Code of Ethics

The CATO Code of Ethics

Travellers depend on travel agents, travel and tour operators to offer honest advice, and provide competent service and value for money.

CATO is an organisation that through collaboration commands the highest product and service standards to be provided to the travelling public.

In a world of dynamic change, travellers are faced with a myriad of choices for transportation, accommodation and other travel services and arrangements.

Similarly carriers, hotels and other suppliers to wholesale products. CATO members must provide their travel product/s to the standard and value expressed in their advertising programmes.

All members of the Council of Australian Tour Operators pledge themselves to conduct their business activities in a manner that promotes the ideal of integrity in travel and agree to act in accordance with the principles of the CATO Code of Ethics as outlined in three parts:

  • Relations with the Public
  • Relations with Travel Agents, Carriers and other principals
  • Relations with Fellow Members

PART 1 – RELATIONS WITH THE PUBLIC

Accuracy

CATO members will be factual and accurate when providing information or describing facilities or services they provide and the services and facilities of any operator they utilise or represent. They will not use deceptive practices.

Affiliation

CATO members will not falsely represent a person’s affiliation with their company.

Compliance

CATO members will abide by all Federal, State and local laws and regulations.

Confidentiality

CATO members will treat every client transaction confidentiality and will not disclose any information without the permission of the client, unless required by law.

Conflict of Interest

CATO members will not allow any preferred relationship with a carrier or operator to interfere with the interests of their clients.

Consumer Protection

CATO members will use every effort to protect their clients against any fraud, misrepresentation or unethical practices, which may arise in the travel industry.

Co-operation

CATO members will cooperate with any enquiry conducted by CATO to resolve any dispute involving consumers or another member.

Delivery

CATO members will provide all components as stated in their brochure or website or written conformation, or provide alternate services of equal or greater value, or provide appropriate compensation.

Disclosure

CATO members will provide complete details about terms and conditions of all or any travel service or provision, including cancellation and service fee obligations, before accepting payment for the booking.

Notice

CATO members will promptly advise the agent or client who reserved the space of any change in itinerary, services, features or price. If substantial changes are made that are within the control of the operator, the client will be allowed to cancel without penalty.

Qualifications and Professionalism

CATO members must employ and train staff to ensure their ongoing professional development. CATO members will ensure that all staff offers true and accurate advice and services, by being fully informed about the products, destinations and various facets of Australian and international travel they promote and sell.

Refunds

CATO members will refund any undisputed client funds under their control within the specified time limit. Reasons for any delay in providing refunds will be promptly advised to the claimant.

Responsiveness

CATO members will respond promptly to their client’s complaints.

PART TWO – RELATIONS WITH TRAVEL AGENTS, CARRIERS AND OTHER PRINCIPALS

CATO members will, at all times, follow the best traditions of salesmanship and fair dealing by providing fair and impartial representation to all travel agents, carriers, hotels, transport operators and other travel organisations which they represent.

CATO members will make themselves thoroughly conversant with agent group agreements, carrier/principal agreements and tariff rules and regulations. They will ensure that their sales and reservations employees know of these agreements and rules, have access to them, and understand them.

CATO members will not attempt to improperly influence the employees of travel agencies, carriers, hotels, tour and ground operators or other organisations, for the purpose of securing preferential consideration in the assignment of space, or for any other purpose.

To assist carriers and suppliers, CATO members will promptly release all unsold space and return cancelled seats and / or accommodation with a minimum of delay. Members will refrain from suggesting and or making duplicate bookings for clients.

Orders placed by CATO members for accommodation or services, whether written or oral, are binding, and if required will be cancelled. When vouchers and exchange order are presented for accommodation or services they will be honored without delay.

CATO members will adhere to standards of truth and will not make false, deceptive or misleading statements or claims when called on to give an opinion of travel agent, carrier, hotel, tour operator or other travel organisation.

In the event of a complaint or grievance by a client against any agent, carrier, hotel or other principal. CATO members will give the principal an opportunity to make a full investigation before taking any action against the principal.

CATO members are encouraged to give appropriate and prominent recognition to their marketing and travel partners in all advertising, sales literature and solicitation practices.

PART THREE – RELATIONS WITH FELLOW MEMBERS

CATO members will conduct business so to avoid confrontation with fellow tour operators. In the event of a controversy arising between CATO members, such controversy should be submitted to the Executive Committee of CATO before any member resorts to litigation.

CATO members will not willfully interfere with or induce cancellation of a transaction after a deposit has been paid, or a memorandum in writing exists.

CATO members will not imitate, simulate or copy any name, design, style, mark or pattern used by another CATO member, agent, hotel or common carrier without permission.

CATO members will not use improperly obtained marketing and sales information, client lists or other confidential information obtained from an employee’s former employer.

CATO members are not justified in violating any provision of this code of ethics on the basis that another tour operator may be doing so.