Booking Your Summer Holiday Safely

Feb 14, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Insurance, Money Saving Tips  //  Comments Off on Booking Your Summer Holiday Safely

Cuba, Cayo Coco

Hark – the snow has returned this week! As is customary with the notorious cold-snaps of February, we have a good whinge, and then start to cheer ourselves up by thinking ahead to our summer holiday plans. The thing is – booking holidays has started to become a bit of a minefield.

Firstly, we question whether package holidays still represent the same value for money, with the internet encouraging us to customise our approach to holiday bookings.

We then begin to wonder whether we can trust the flattering pictures and reassuring text of the glossy brochures, which all too often mis-represent hotels that more closely resemble building sites.

And what if airlines or tour operators go out of business in advance of the holiday? Package holiday firms XL and Goldtrail have folded since the onset of the financial crisis, while numerous airlines including Flyglobespan, Spanair and Cirrus Airlines have bit the dust too.

The number one tip is to look out for the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing certificate (ATOL) when booking. This is a scheme to ensure that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will look after you if there is a problem with your holiday.

For more on ATOL, and for further hints and tips on booking a holiday safely, we’re glad to present Dominic Littlewood, who has teamed up with Victoria Sanders from Teletext Holidays to provide a short video guide for holidaymakers. (Transcript below)

Dominic Littlewood, Consumer ChampionIt’s cold, it’s grey and it’s miserable. So is it any wonder that many of us are looking to book a holiday at this time of year? And what better way to grab ourself a bargain than by looking online.

But that can be a bit of a worry because what companies can you trust? And confusing! What about all those hidden extras that are here, there and everywhere? So what are the best ways to search for a holiday online?

The internet is a fast and convenient way to search for your holiday. You can look at the hotels. You can compare prices. But it can be daunting knowing where to look and how to book.

A good website should tell you clearly exactly what’s included in the cost, what charges you might have to pay for credit or debit cards, and have understandable terms and conditions. Remember, you should always factor in potential costs – things like towel hire, transfers to and from the airport and whether you might need injections for the place you’re going to.

Booking a bargain holiday should never come at the expense of protection though. You should always make sure you are protected in case something goes wrong and you need to claim back or the airline you’re travelling with goes bust while you’re away.

In order to make sure that you’re comfortable and 100% guaranteed that a travel website is legitimate, look out for the ATOL logo. It means that if anything happens while you’re abroad, i.e. the airline goes bust, anything happens with your hotel accommodation, the CAA will look after you, they’ll protect you and they’ll make sure that you get home.

When you see a headline price, make sure you know exactly what it is you’re paying for. So, what does that contain? Are your bags included in that? Any transfers included? What about insurance on top? What you want to know is exactly what you’re paying for and how much this holiday is going to cost you.

The beginning of the year is actually a really good time to look for a great deal. Right now there are hundreds of offers available and there are only a limited number of free child places.  There are thousands around but they get snapped up really quickly so it’s important that you book as early as possible.  Many travel companies will offer either low deposits or no deposits as well so make sure you take advantage of these offers.

65% of people that we asked said the price was the most important thing about their holiday – so really price motivated. And 40% of people said that they are really worried about getting stung by optional extras and compulsory extra charges; and out of those people 23% had already said that they had been stung by extra taxes that they weren’t expecting to pay.

So at Teletext Holidays we have launched a campaign for real holidays at real prices and what we ensure is when you see a price on the website it includes all the compulsory extra charges that you have to pay as part of that holiday.

On the website you will see a section called ‘Ask Barry.’ Barry is our compliance manager and he ensures that every advertiser on our website has been checked and verified and is legitimate and everything you see is everything you need to pay.  On this section you also see information on all the optional extras that you may have to pay for.

Victoria Sanders, Managing Director, Teletext Holidays

I love booking my holidays. I get really, really excited, but there are a lot of things to think about. There are things like visas, inoculations and currency. Some people haven’t got a clue where to start. So, work out where you want to go, then find out if you need a visa. If you do, how much is it? It’s the same with medication and injections because these are the sorts of things that can boost the price of your holiday.

So there you have it: research; book early; look for the ATOL logo; and look beyond the headline price. Happy holidays.

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