“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” – Douglas Adams
It is important to ensure that user groups are fully informed before they enter into the contract to use the business. Good practice shows that the booking form must contain the following components which can be incorporated under different headings or may even be on more than one form. Some businesses have a booking form with general rules attached which could include some of these details. The following items should be clearly stated on the form or forms used in any booking and hire agreement.
Name of Group: The name of the group to identify who they are or whom they represent.
Period of Hire: The arrival and departure date of the group.
Arrival and Departure Time: Include the arrival and departure times using a 24 hour clock or a.m./ p.m. notations.
Cost Per Person: The cost needs to be unambiguously stated including the basis of the quote and what is included in that price, e.g., per night / per day / per week / per meal. The cost may be a total group cost or a ‘per person’ cost but the basis of the cost needs to be clear and precise. If a minimum charge applies, it must be clearly stated.
GST: It needs to be clear that the stated price is GST inclusive (e.g. ‘$XX including GST’) or exclusive e.g. “$YY plus 10% GST’).
Cost Inclusions/Exclusions: The number of nights/meals, i.e. what the group is getting for their money. Does it include all available activities? Are there any extra optional costs? If so, they need to be noted.
Deposit Amount, Due Date, Conditions: How much deposit is required, when is it required and what happens if it is not received by the due date? Is it refundable? Is a booking fee kept? This information needs to be written on the form.
Details of Group:
- number in group – the expected numbers for deposit calculation, or minimum group size.
- age range – useful for planning and a guide to operators that adequate leadership is provided.
- number of leaders attending – as for age range
- leaders name, address, phone number, email – vital for pre and post event contact. If it is a group that has its own address (e.g. a school) this should also be recorded on the form for future reference – see under name of group.
Occupancy Sole or Shared: Is the group sharing the site or do they have exclusive use? Are there any conditions?
Payment Conditions: When is payment due? Does it need to be paid by cash, cheque, credit card or direct deposit into a bank account?
Booking Confirmation Conditions: This is related to deposit conditions. What are the steps required to confirm a booking?
Liability Clause: A statement indemnifying the business and its personnel from any liability, loss or damage to users or user property whilst using the business and surrounds.
Public Liability: Businesses should remind user groups that they are responsible for their own public liability insurance and recommend groups seek appropriate advice.
Cancellation Procedure: A written procedure should clearly identify the possible repercussions (if any) for a group who cancels a booking. Is the deposit kept and under what conditions? Is any part of the deposit refunded? How much notice of cancellation is required to redeem the deposit, if at all? What are the business’ obligations if they (the business) cancel a booking?
Contract/Agreement: A statement that the business and hirer accept that they are entering into an agreement that may be legally binding.
Care of Property: Hiring groups are made aware of their responsibilities for business equipment and facilities and that they will be liable for damage or loss through misbehaviour or poor supervision.
Responsibility for First-aid: A statement clearly identifying who is responsible for providing first-aiders and first-aid equipment.
Sun Safety: Groups should be reminded of the problems of exposure to the sun. They should be encouraged to adopt good practices such as wearing of adequate hats, protective clothing, use of shade during activities, provision of sunscreen, etc.
Smoking: State laws are gradually broadening to limit the places people may smoke and the business should take note of these changes as they arise. In addition the business may have its own policy (e.g. no smoking indoors, etc.) that ought to be brought to the attention of groups at the time of booking.
Hazards: Any significant hazards that could pose an immediate risk to users (e.g., nearby unfenced waterway or lake) should be identified at some stage of the booking process.
Group Supervision: The business needs to clearly express their role in supervision. This may be a statement such as ‘The group leader is responsible for camper supervision at all times’. What is the group’s responsibility for activity supervision?
List of User Names: The leader is required to supply a list of user names.
Illness/Injury Register: The leader is responsible for ensuring the business’s illness and injury register is completed for all such incidents.
Programs and Activities: List all the activities that are provided by the business. Are there any special needs for specific activities, e.g., clothing, participant experience, etc? Indicate which activities are ‘specialised activities’. (i.e. Those referred to in Education Department outdoor activity guidelines for each state OR where poor supervision, inappropriate behaviour or lack of instructor skills, experience, etc. is likely to harm participants) and which activities the user group may use and under what conditions these activities. Where the business provides activity supervision, the business should remind the user group to advise the business of any medical conditions or behaviour of participants that may arise and place the users or others at risk.
Signature of User: Signature of authorised person or group leader agreeing to rules, terms and conditions of hire of the business. The leader also acknowledges he or she understands and accepts the booking conditions for the business, agrees to abide by them and that the leader will inform the group of special rules, etc.
Receipt Number: Deposits and payments need to be tracked and the booking form should have ‘office use only’ space that identifies money received with an allocated receipt number.
Telephone: The business needs to advise user groups if a telephone is available for use in emergency. In the absence of a telephone being available, the business needs to provide advice as to where the nearest phone is located and/or the viability of mobile phone use at the site.
Privacy Act: The business needs to provide assurance to the customer that any personal information including medical details gathered by the business, or provided by the group leader, will remain confidential and only used for the purposes for which it was collected.
Note: A number of issues over the recent past including some natural disasters and the Victorian Teachers Industrial Action last year prompted us to get some advice in relation to reviewing the Template Booking Agreement we provide to ACA Members. Of course we recognise that there are a number of factors that also impact on your decisions in relation to cancellations including good will towards your clients and the reputation of your camp. However we have sought to revise our Template Booking Agreement on the basis that it is better to be able to negotiate a suitable outcome based on having a Booking Agreement which protects your rights and provides you with a strong position from which to negotiate.
Please find links below the Australian Camps Association (ACA) Revised Template Booking Agreement that we (ACA) have had prepared by Moores Legal along with some advice from them about how to treat Deposits in relation to GST. Please feel free to utilise this template for your own purposes.
This is the advice we have received and if members need further clarification they should seek their own legal advice.