The UK’s top consumer magazine, Which?, has warned that trusting global online travel sites risks “dodgy refund policies and non-existent customer service” and that it is not the money-saver that many customers assume.
The study challenges the notion, fuelled by the growth of on-line information, that if travellers do all the planning themselves they will save money.
Which? has also concluded that package holidays are likely to work out cheaper than DIY bookings.
Packaged trips also offer far greater protection if a holiday hits problems because of coronavirus restrictions or because their airline or hotel goes bankrupt, Which? concludes.
The study concluded that package holidays were better value in eight out of 10 cases. Which? examined the cheapest packages available online from both Jet2holidays and Tui and compared them with the cost of identical DIY holidays.
Value for money
David Hopps, director of Red Dot Tours, Sri Lanka’s leading tailor-made specialist, said that such value for money can also extend into the tailor-made market – an even more surprising outcome.
“This report backs up what we’ve been saying at Red Dot for years,” he said. Our prices are designed to be so competitive, and our approach is flexible. So there is no advantage in going it alone.
“Not every tailor-made company can make such a confident claim. But we believe that travellers who like to be heavily involved in the planning of their holidays are better off doing that with our guidance and advice. And they won’t pay through the nose for the privilege.”
The Covid-19 crisis has shown that while booking a package offers holidaymakers greater protection, not all package providers have abided by the law on refunds when holidays have been cancelled.
Red Dot claims a clean bill of health on that, too. “All our customers were refunded promptly and we have no outstanding issues,” Hopps said. “We are proud of delivering that in desperately challenging times.”
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been urging holidaymakers to book a package if they were considering a holiday over the summer or are looking to book for next year, given the unparalleled protections they offer if things don’t go to plan.
“Many people are put off booking a package because they worry they’ll have to pay more than booking their flight and accommodation separately, but as our research shows, a package could save holidaymakers hundreds on the cost of their holiday.
“Not all holiday providers are equal though. Anyone planning on booking a holiday for 2021 should strongly consider booking a package with a reputable provider that has treated customers fairly in recent months, to ensure their cash is protected if something goes wrong.
Boland added: “Booking sites have been seen as a hassle-free way to find the best deal on travel or accommodation when booking a holiday, but our survey highlights serious problems, from dodgy refund policies and unwelcome admin fees, to non-existent customer service.