According to the ASA 2009 Annual Report, the number of holiday/ travel ads complained about was 15% down on 2008, but the number of complaints was 14% up, so a new CAP HelpNote for travel advertisers on how to stay on the right side of the CAP Code is timely, as Daisy Jones reports.
Topic: Misleading advertising
Who: Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
When: May 2010
Law stated as at: 05 July 2010
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which writes and updates the British Code of Advertising, Sales promotion and Direct Marketing ("CAP Code") has published some new guidance for the travel marketing industry entitled 'Help Note on Travel Marketing'.
The new "HelpNote" is intended to help marketers, agencies and media interpret the rules in the CAP Code as far as they relate to travel marketing. However they do not form new rules nor do they bind the ASA Council when they are dealing with complaints.
The note covers the following topics:-
Marketing communications which quote fares should include all taxes and other compulsory charges paid both at the point of purchase and abroad. Marketers should endeavour to accurately state the amount of taxes and charges and highlight when fares are one-way only.
'"Free" tickets, Reduced Price Offers and Promotions
Significant conditions and limitations should be clearly stated in marketing communications and travel should only be stated as 'free', 'available for £1' or 'Buy one Get one Free' if the cost of compulsory taxes and charges has been absorbed by the marketer or into the price. Additionally travel should not be described as free if it is dependent upon a subsequent purchase such as accommodation.
Availability and Travel Periods
Marketers should state that fares are 'from …' when not all tickets are available at the quoted promotional rate. Additionally if a marketing communication does include the phrase 'fares from…' a minimum of 10% of the reservable seats must be available at the promotional rate. This 10% minimum also applies when the phrase savings 'up to …' is used.
The availability of tickets at the advertised fare should be spread as evenly as possible across the travel period. Significant periods when the 10% availability cannot be met should be identified within the communication.
Comparison of Journey Times
Where journey times are compared, the comparisons should be fair and conducted on a like-for-like basis. If rail and air travel times are compared, the air journey time should include the transfer times between the centre of town and the airport and the cost of this transfer.
Environmental claims in general should not be used unless the marketers can provide convincing evidence supporting their claim. For instance, the use of 'environmentally friendly' should only be used if there is evidence that there will be no environmental damage. Marketers should also include the source of data used to support environmental claims. Claims regarding CO2 emissions and carbon neutrality should be based on robust evidence and methodologies such as those used by DEFRA.
Where departure and destination cities are served by more than one airport, the marketing communication should specify airport names.
Marketers should not confuse legroom with seat pitch as this is misleading nor should they imply that luxury features are available on all flights if they are limited to certain aircraft or journeys.
Cruise and Cruise Travel Agents
Brochure prices and those advertised by agents must be genuine and achievable and cruise liners should be able to show that the 'top' brochure prices are being paid by consumers. This should be through sold data wherever possible.
Travel agents are not subject to the 10% requirements detailed above for availability and travel periods, however, if places are likely to be extremely limited or unavailable, the agent should state that the offer is 'extremely limited' or 'offers may be withdrawn without notice'.
The headline prices for package holidays should include local payments for any trips and trips should not be described as free if there is an entrance fee to the main attractions.
Why this matters:
The HelpNote contains significant revisions to previous guidance and aims to bring all of the advice together into one document for travel marketers.
It can be found at: http://copyadvice.co.uk/News/2010/New-Travel-Help-Note.aspx.
Vacation Scheme Student
Osborne Clarke, London