Everything You Need to Know About Legal Documents: Contracts and Waivers

Travel Industry Solutions (TIS) was born out of a need our CEO saw within the travel industry: a lack of resources and training for travel advisors. As a travel agent herself, she discovered firsthand how difficult it was to navigate the legal side of her business.

And travel today hasn’t made it any easier. 

Do you:

  • Feel totally overwhelmed with ever-changing entry requirements and scary new mandates?
  • Spend half the night worrying about your client’s trip to Spain, hoping they remembered all their documentation?
  • Worry about the couple who didn’t purchase travel insurance and tested positive before coming home?
  • Wonder how you can make your grumpy clients happy when things don’t go as planned?

In hindsight, you wish you’d had some kind of contract or waiver signed when you booked those clients! 

As your trashcan fills up with all the hair you’ve pulled out, you wonder, “How can I protect myself from this horrible headache in the future?” 

Don’t worry! We’re here to help you understand what you need, when you need it, and how to get it done.

What is the difference between a contract and a waiver?

If you’re like most people, the mention of any legal term turns your brain into a jiggly mound of Jello.

Here at TIS, we’re all about simplicity! We want to make it easy for you to understand everything.


Because your success is important to us! We cut out the BS so you always have an easy-to-understand process for both you and your clients.

So, what is the difference between a contract and a waiver?

A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties. For example, in your client terms and conditions, you fill out dates, pricing, and other information, sign it, then send it off for your client to sign. It covers you and your client’s responsibilities so both have a clear picture of what services are required of you. It is used to set out the terms and conditions of the travel arrangements including payment terms, cancellation policies, and other important information. 

A waiver may be used to release a travel agent or tour operator from liability for certain risks associated with the travel, such as injuries or illnesses that may occur during a tour or activity. For example, if a client is going on a guided hike, the travel agent or tour operator may require the client to sign a waiver acknowledging the risks involved in the activity and agreeing not to hold the agent or operator responsible for any injuries that may occur. 

You’ll often find that it’s common for contracts to include provisions that waive certain rights or claims. It’s important however to note that the waivers included in contracts must be carefully drafted to ensure they are enforceable and legally binding, or you’ll find yourself in hot water!

How do these legal documents protect your business?

You chose to take control of your life when you became your own boss as a travel advisor. You’re proud of how far you’ve come in your business – and you should be!

But feeling proud doesn’t get you very far when a nightmare client refuses to pay the cancellation fee you implemented. You worked long hours planning this dream vacation for them and now they’re canceling to take advantage of a deal they found on a third-party website.

You told them about your cancellation fee, but you didn’t put it in writing in your contract. Now what?

Or what about the time you were blamed for a non-refundable vacation to Australia when the pandemic hit? You aren’t responsible for your supplier’s actions when it comes to wars and pandemics. But your client doesn’t know this. 

Sadly, when you don’t add it to your contract, you can’t take action. You need to have all your terms in that contract!

If you don’t, you’re wasting your most valuable resource: your time.

Even though you’d like to think no one will take advantage of you, there are those people who’ll gladly run over anyone in their path. And that’s why you need to have a thorough contract.

Set boundaries on your time, responsibilities, liabilities, and even include a list of the legal documents they need to bring along!

Your business is valuable, and we don’t want to see you crash and burn!

What kinds of contracts and waivers do you need?

A Google search of contracts makes your head spin – there’s way too much information out there to sift through!

Your hands are full enough without having a content overload (Thanks, Google!).

Through our Silver Membership, you receive our essential warrantied contracts and waivers. Each is tailored to cover the services you offer as a travel advisor. You won’t have to download that free template from Pinterest and worry about which sections you need to delete and which ones you need to keep.

Planning Fee Agreement

It may be small, but it’s the most important document of them all! Your time is priceless and should never be given away for free. Your clients see a listed planning fee on your website but sending them a copy protects you from any disputes.

Travel Services Agreement (TSA)

This “master” document was created to help limit your feelings of overwhelm with all your legal agreements. It serves as your master agreement any time your customer makes a payment for planning fees or their trip. This simple, one-page document links to your terms and conditions, which you’ll place on your website, Dropbox, Google Drive, or another electronic format. It’s designed to take the fear out of sending and receiving lengthy legalese while providing customers who love reading the fine print, the ability to do so. We provide you with two versions – a version with a credit card authorization section to use within an e-sign program. The second one comes without the credit card authorization section so you can copy/paste it into your CRM of choice for easier collection of payments and signatures. 

Terms and Conditions

This document is vital for protecting your buns from getting roasted by dumpster fires. The best way to include it in your TSA is through a link leading to a page on your website. In this document, your client will find a list of everything you do and don’t do. Once they sign your TSA, they agree to your terms and conditions. This makes the whole process easier for those who are a little scared to send clients their terms.

Travel Insurance (Waiver/Acceptance) Agreement

You know people should never travel without insurance. You tell your clients this, but some of them may choose to bypass it. You need a waiver of written acknowledgment that they’re fine with skipping insurance. And if they do decide to purchase travel insurance through you, they’ll need to sign your insurance agreement. Our document goes beyond the usual agreements by letting your client know exactly what you do and what your client is responsible for. You aren’t an insurance agent, and this document makes this clear.

Once you have all these documents in place, you’re ready to start booking vacations! But are there any exceptions to who needs to sign those legal documents?

Who needs to sign the “dotted line”?

Your aunt is planning a family trip to Bora Bora, and she contacts you to take care of the details. You’re excited to get started!

Since she’s family, you don’t need to have her sign all those contracts and waivers, right?


It doesn’t matter if it’s family, friends, or a stranger off the street. No matter how much you trust them you need to make sure your clients sign all your legal documents!

Let’s face it, annoying things happen like canceled flights, a positive test result outside of the country, or a private resort transfer that doesn’t show. These circumstances are enough to push anyone over the edge, even someone you love.

Things get ugly, feelings are hurt and before you know it you’re facing the loss of a friend or an estranged family member. Or heaven forbid, even a lawsuit

No matter who is booking travel through you, the documents we talked about in the previous section need to be signed. 

Secure your travel biz today!

Now that you know how vital contracts and waivers are, it’s time to make your travel business secure… Today!

Our membership provides you with every tiny detail you need to make sure you’re protected from messy legal implications.

We also teach you about:

  • Client onboarding
  • Processes that WORK
  • Scripts to streamline your communications and save time
  • Marketing
  • …And so much more!

Would you like access to our travel advisor education? We upload new and inspiring content on a regular basis – so don’t wait. Join us today as we help advisors across the country finally realize their dreams! And don’t forget to check out our other contracts and agreements, including website policies, independent travel agent agreement, group leader agreement, and more.

We’d love to hear your stories! Have you been burned due to a lack of legal documentation?

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