What is TICO and does it matter to me as a renter?
Some of us know to look for the Travel Industry of Council of Ontario (TICO) symbol before booking and others don’t know what TICO is at all. For those of us who know to look for the TICO symbol, I bet most of us don’t really know what TICO is and what they do for consumers. This week’s blog is going to talk about who TICO is and why it is important as a consumer to book with companies who are TICO certified.
So, who is TICO? TICO is a not-for profit corporation. One of their main objectives is ensuring that the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 and Ontario Regulation 26/05 is enforced on behalf of the Ontario government. The legislation governs travel retailers and travel wholesalers registered in Ontario. In addition, TICO administers an industry-financed Travel Compensation Fund. There are many other functions of TICO such as a government liaison and registering companies with TICO but for this blog we will focus on the consumer piece.
TICO has developed standards and regulatory mechanisms in areas such as consumer protection, consumer education and awareness, signing up registrants which includes registration, inspection and supervision and they also aid with disputes between consumers and registrants. TICO also administers the Ontario Travel Industry Compensation Fund. They do inspections on the Certified registrants and follow up for any deficiencies they found. They deal with consumer inquiries, consumer education and consumer travel rights. They also deal with complaint resolution between any of the parties they deal with such as consumers and TICO registrants.
So why would it matter if you booked with a TICO certified company or not? Booking with a TICO Certified company provides you with an added layer of comfort and coverage for your travel investment that may not be offered if you book out of province or country or with a non-TICO certified person or business. Booking with a TICO certified company will also provide you with the protection available under the Travel Industry Act, 2002 and Ontario Regulation 26/05.
If you book through an individual or company who is not part of TICO, they do not have to follow the rules and will not have TICO inspections to ensure they follow the rules. So, there may be hidden costs and surprises. This won’t happen with TICO certified companies.
The trip or property may not be what you booked and there is little you can do about it if who you it booked it through is not part of TICO. For example, you booked a 4-star hotel with 3 pools and 5 restaurants and when you arrive there is 1 pool and 1 restaurant due to renovations. If you were not told by the company, you booked with you can ask your travel agency for alternate accommodation that is suitable to you or a refund. Without TICO you have little recourse.
TICO is also responsible for the travel fund which you may claim through if you purchased your holiday through a TICO Certified company. Ways that it has been used in the past has been when a travel company, airline and cruises who go bankrupt. You can file for a refund of the travel service that you did not receive due to the bankruptcy. TICO has also helped many stranded customers get home when the website or tour operator failed to do so. This assistance or refund is not available if your travel provided is not TICO certified.
We look forward to our vacations and travel is not cheap. So, be diligent and make sure that you are booking with a TICO certified company to ensure you have that added level of protection and comfort. Speaking from experience when we became TICO certified upon purchasing the business it was a lengthy process providing information about the company, its owners, financials, and plans. But knowing that we are TICO certified and our renters are being taken care of means the world to us!
As always, we look forward to hearing from you!