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Risk disclosure statements

Risk disclosure statements; a small chore that can save a lot of headaches! Why your tourism business should have one.

A primary focus of the Whakaari investigation was whether guests were fully aware of the potential risks in undertaking the activity. Five tourism operators have accepted the charge while two others are currently contesting this in the court. Regardless of the outcome, this has set the benchmark for the expectation of what good business practice looks like. The premise of the charges was that customers must be made aware of any potential risks prior to make a commitment to undertake the activity.

Risk disclosure statements have been made mandatory under the revised Adventure What’s the difference between a risk disclosure statement and a Waiver? The HSWA states you are not able to contract out of your obligations, so any form of health and safety waiver simply isn’t valid. Waiver forms can still however be used to mitigate liability for loss or damage to property, disrupted travel arrangements etc.

Activity Regulations. Of course, the realm of risk extends beyond adventure activity operators. Soft adventure activities, like kayak rentals, courtesy kayaks, surf schools, and horse riding can all be high risk activities yet don’t require an audit. Inherent risks also exist within transportation, attractions, and accommodation. While these risks may be less conspicuous than those in the adventure sector, hazards are present in settings such as pools, spa pools, saunas, ponds, rivers, streams, icy conditions, and busy entryways etc., and of course on the road.

People look through different lenses and don’t always see risk the same way, what is obvious to one person, another is blissfully unaware of. Risk disclosures make your guests aware they also have a role to play, and these are risks they need to be mindful of.  

Demonstrating you take the welfare of your guests seriously is a great selling point and something that should be front and centre. Writing a risk disclosure statement is a fairly simple process. The consequences of not having one if something goes wrong could be catastrophic.

Good practice

  • Keep it simple – write in plain language, don’t get carried away with legislation speak and health and safety jargon.
  • Look through the lens of your guests. Consider your audience. Do you need to have it translated into other languages.
  • Provide an aerial view of general risks, guests don’t need to see your entire risk register.
  • Consider the most serious risks in your operation.
  • Consider if there are additional risks to persons with medical conditions, e.g. heart conditions, mobility issues etc.
  • Ensure your statement is clearly visible on your website, booking engine and other relevant marketing collateral. This avoids the “had I known that I wouldn’t have booked” conversation. You also have an obligation under the Fair Trading Act to ensure all of the terms and conditions are made available prior to entering a contract.
  • Included your risk disclosure statement as a separate item in your terms and conditions on your booking engine. This ensures discover-ability.
  • Are there any risks in the area you may feel morally obliged to inform guests of? These might include dangerous beaches, walks, cycle tracks or roads etc.

Sample statements:

Accommodation

Welcome to ………………………We are committed to ensuring your safety and well-being during your stay with us. However, like any establishment, there are inherent risks associated with travel and accommodations. Please carefully read and acknowledge the following risk disclosure statement before proceeding with your reservation:

  1. Property Risks: While we take extensive measures to maintain our property, accidents or unforeseen incidents may occur. These could include slip and fall accidents, property damage, or malfunctioning equipment. Guests are advised to exercise caution and adhere to all posted safety guidelines within the premises.
  2. Natural Disasters and Weather Conditions: Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, storms, or floods, can occur unexpectedly. While our building is designed to withstand such events, there is always an element of risk. Guests are encouraged to familiarize themselves with emergency exits and evacuation procedures.
  3. Fire Safety: We have fire safety protocols in place, including smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. However, fires can still pose a risk. Guests should exercise caution when using heating appliances, or smoking in designated areas only. Candles are not permitted to be used on the premises.
  4. Recreational Activities and Amenities: Participation in recreational activities or the use of amenities (e.g., swimming pool, gym, kayaks, bicycles) carries inherent risks. Guests are advised to use equipment properly and responsibly, and be aware of their own limitations. Failing to use equipment properly could result in serious injury or death.
  5. Medical Emergencies: In the event of a medical emergency, we will assist in summoning emergency assistance and providing first aid where we can. In an emergency call 111. Our location is [XX ……….]. An AED is located at [map]
  6. Security and Personal Belongings: We provide security measures to safeguard your belongings, but we are not responsible for any loss, theft, or damage to personal items. Guests are advised to use in-room safes, lock doors, and report any suspicious activity to hotel staff.
    By proceeding with your reservation and checking into [Hotel Name], you acknowledge that you have read, understood, and accepted the risks associated with your stay. Our dedicated staff is here to ensure your comfort and safety throughout your time with us. If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact our front desk.

Travel seller

There are inherent risks in a number of activities we facilitate such as Maritime, Aviation and Adventure activities. We ensure the operators we work with conform to all regulatory requirements and are committed to delivering a safe and enjoyable experience. While all steps are taken to ensure your safety, the nature of some activities means there are inherent risks which could result in injury or death. We will provide a risk disclosure for the activities you are considering prior to booking.

Risk disclosure statements should be sought from operators and made available to customers.

Activity/Attraction operator

We are committed to delivering a safe and enjoyable experience. We take all care to ensure your safety, however, there are inherent risks in the nature of our activity. To ensure your safety guests must follow the instructions of our team at all times, by physically capable of undertaking the activity, and not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Risks may include [slips, falls, drowning, collisions, etc. State risks relevant to your operation] which may results in serious injury or death.

Transport operator

We are committed to delivering an enjoyable experience and transporting all of our guests safely to their destination. While we take all care there are inherent risks on the road which can result in serious injury or death. To ensure your safety we have strict protocols which require your cooperation. These include ensuring seat belts are worn at all times, refrain from moving about the moving vehicle, not distracting the driver, and not being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Still not sure – give us a call.