How to Make a Holiday Complaint Directly to your Tour Operator

At Simpson Millar our aim is to provide holidaymakers who were ill on holiday or have suffered an accident abroad with legal advice and representation to ensure that they claim their compensation.

We realise that you may prefer to contact your tour operator with a complaint directly, and this is usually the best approach if you want to complain about the standard of the facilities not being as advertised or unavailable, and general issues such as poor cleaning, broken facilities or disruptive hotel building work.

How to Make a Holiday Complaint Directly to your Tour Operator

In this guide we'll explain how to pursue a complaint on your own, as well as how to claim compensation. Please be aware that we recommend receiving legal advice if your complaint concerns any of the following:

Remember that once you accept compensation for a complaint, in most cases this will be your final settlement and you likely won't be able to make a future claim with legal representation if you feel that the amount that you received was too low.

What You Can Claim For

It's important to take the time to assess if your claim has a good chance of success. Unfortunately, we can't provide you with a list of criteria that will tell you for certain if your claim will be successful, but we can advise you that if your claim is successful you may be able to claim the following compensation:

  • A full or partial refund of your holiday
  • Compensation for loss of holiday enjoyment
  • Out-of-pocket expenses

Be Wary of Tour Operators

Keep in mind that tour operators may have branded themselves in a way that makes them seem care free and fun loving, but as a business in most cases they will try to pay out as little as they can to maximise their profits.

At Simpson Millar our Holiday Claims team work hard to obtain sizeable compensation awards from tour operators and in instances where you contact your tour operator directly, they might rely on your lack of specialist knowledge and attempt to settle your case for less than you are entitled to. Another tactic that they can try is to offer you vouchers rather than money.

Don't Be Put Off – Be Smart

If your complaint is over an issue that didn't cause you harm such as poor service, food or a hotel room that could have been better; you may find that the value of your claim is going to be relatively low. For these claims it's usually best to pursue them yourself and make a direct complaint.

While we can take on all claims on a 'no win no fee' basis, if we are successful, we do have fees that need to be paid for and this will come out of your compensation.

While we won't charge you for any shortfall, if we feel that your claim is of a low value we will advise you of this during a free no-obligation consultation, and it's usually beneficial to pursue these types of complaints yourself.

Top 10 Tips on Writing a Holiday Complaint Letter

Ensuring that your holiday complaint letter is of a high standard will mean you will get results. Follow our tips on maximising your chance for success:

    Before Writing – Research

  1. 1. Thoroughly read through the terms and conditions that you were provided with by your tour operator. This should detail their complaints process as well as provide you with further information on your rights.
  2. 2. Find the best contact at your tour operator. It's preferable to address your complaint to the managing director of your holiday company, as they often have the power to make a real difference if your letter reaches them.
  3. 3. Work out what an ideal compensation would be for your circumstances and try to find out what previous claimants have been awarded.
  4. While Writing

  5. 4. While you don't want to appear greedy or crass, ensure that you make it clear that you expect compensation as part of the resolution to your complaint.
  6. 5. Provide your details and full details of your holiday and what went wrong, including the following:

    • The name and location of your resort
    • The names of those in your holiday party
    • Your booking reference
    • Your departure dates
    • The time spent at your resort
    • What went wrong

  7. 6. Make use of bullet points, headings, and list your complaints. Stick to the facts and how the problem affected you, explaining why you haven't complained previously if that's the case.
  8. Tips on Strengthening your Complaint

  9. 7. Provide an exact amount for the holiday compensation you expect, as well as a breakdown of how you came to that figure. It's important to be realistic as an excessive compensation claim will likely be unsuccessful.
  10. 8. Be honest and avoid exaggeration as a more humble complaint stands a better chance of success.
  11. 9. If you haven't done so already, collate any correspondence that you've had so far and make sure that what you're saying matches up to your previous complaint or enquiry, including anything discussed with your holiday rep or hotel staff.
  12. Last Resort

  13. 10. Provide an ultimatum.
  14. You should clearly state what you will do if your complaint is not resolved to a satisfactory standard within relevant time limits. Explaining that you're willing to take matters further (generally through ABTA Arbitration scheme or the Small Claims Court) may put pressure on your tour operator to resolve your complaint swiftly.

Example of a Holiday Complaint Letter

To give you an idea of how to structure of your letter of complaint to a tour operator, below you'll find an example. We recommend using this as a guide for composing your own letter, and making amendments where necessary and addressing items within the square brackets.

[Insert your address]

For the Attention of [the Managing Director/insert Managing Directors name]
[Insert Name of Tour Operator]
[Insert address of Tour Operator]

Dear [sir/madam/whom it may concern]

I am writing to you to complain about [explain what happened] to claim compensation for my ruined holiday to [insert resort and hotel name]. I travelled to [insert resort and hotel name] on [insert date] from [departure airport] under the booking reference [insert booking reference]. The people on the booking were [insert names].

My entitlement to claim compensation arises out of the Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tour Regulations 1992.

A list of my complaints is as follows:

Building Work I Should have been Informed of

Upon arrival at [resort or hotel name] I noticed construction work being carried out [distance] from our apartment/hotel. Work consisted of [details of dust/noise/disturbance/machinery being used etc.].

I tried to contact our holiday rep to complain but I was unable to find them. I called the emergency number that we were provided with ([insert number]) to request a change of [hotels/rooms] and I was told that a representative would meet us at 2.00 pm that day.

I met them at the agreed time but was informed that the resort was full and they would be unable to relocate us for the remainder of our holiday. As we could not afford to move to another hotel we stayed where we were, where the [issues mentioned previously] persisted.

Problems with [Hotel/Resort] Food

To avoid issues of food poisoning and other issues that can be found at restaurants that have not had sufficient safety checks; we budgeted for an all-inclusive hotel that we booked with you, and on the advice of your holiday representative avoided eating outside of [name resort].

We were dissatisfied to find that [list concerns/poor service/unreasonable queues at the buffet/not enough food for all guests/not enough variety etc.].

We were also very concerned about the hygiene of the [name resort/hotel] buffet, as [list concerns/insects, birds, wildlife able to access the buffet/undercooked or raw meat being served/food served at dangerous temperatures/reheated food/unclean serving area etc.].

It's surprising that none of our party suffered from food poisoning while dining at [hotel/resort restaurant name], and we were unable to enjoy our food which had a negative effect on our overall holiday experience.

Advertised Facilities Unavailable

When reading the description of your [hotel/resort] in your [brochure/on your website], we were informed that there would be a range of restaurants including [list specific restaurants]. However when we enquired about these restaurants upon our arrival, we were informed that the [list restaurants] were closed and that the [list restaurants] were all/was fully booked, leaving us unable to eat at the all-inclusive restaurants that we had paid for.

Upon reading your [brochure/website] we chose to book our holiday at the [resort name] due to the [number] swimming pools that were advertised. When we arrived we were told that the [list swimming pool] was undergoing maintenance during the [list time period] of our stay. When we complained to our holiday representative, we were told to use the [list alternative pool] that was understandably busy, with no explanation given as to why we were not informed of this when we booked.

Compensation Claimed

We are very disappointed with our experience at [Hotel/Resort Name]. It is my understanding that my [family/holiday party] and I are entitled to claim compensation for our loss of enjoyment of our holiday that should include a refund of the proportion of our holiday that was ruined.

For loss of enjoyment, we feel that we are entitled to £30.00 per person for each day of the [list number of days ruined, for this example we'll say it was 6 nights] that our holiday was ruined, which for my family of [list the number in your party, for this example we'll say it was 4] comes to [£720.00].

For loss of value, we feel that although over half of our holiday was ruined, to allow for an expedient resolution, we will accept a 50% refund of the cost of the holiday, which cost us [for example £1,200.00] making the compensation for loss of value [£600.00].

As stated in the ABTA Arbitrations guidelines I expect you to acknowledge my complaint within 14 days of receipt and provide a full response within 28 days. If I do not receive an acknowledgement and full response within this time period, as well as a cheque to the value of [£1,320.00], I will take this matter further through ABTA or the small claims court.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours [faithfully/sincerely]
(Use sincerely if you've named a recipient and faithfully if you haven't)

[Insert name]

[Insert telephone number]
[Insert email address]

The Importance of Receiving Specialist Legal Advice

In ideal circumstances a letter of this nature will result in a swift resolution where you receive your requested compensation, but in some instances your tour operators may do all that they can to pay out as little as possible and can be difficult to deal with.

Because of this, we generally recommend receiving legal advice before pursuing a claim, particularly if your claim is for an injury or illness that you have suffered on your package holiday.

Holiday Accident and Illness Claims

Accident and illness claims generally result in a larger compensation amount than general complaints, and a tour operator may rely on your lack of knowledge of how much your claim is worth, and pay out less than you are entitled to.

If you have suffered a holiday accident or illness that wasn't your fault while on a package holiday, then we recommend contacting our Holiday Claims team who will provide you with no-obligation legal advice on the value of your claim. We can handle all holiday claims on 'no win no fee' terms, meaning that if we pursue your claim for you we won't charge you for our services unless we're successful.


It only takes a few minutes to find out if you have claim, so contact us today by filling in our simple enquiry form and we will call you back, or alternatively call us directly on 0808 145 1353.


Get In Touch

Nick Harris - Head of International Travel Law - Manchester

Nick Harris
Head of Holiday Travel Claims (Consumer)

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