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newswatcher
3rd Jun 2004, 15:51
Interesting experience planning a holiday in Tenerife next Easter. Have previously enjoyed a stay(AI) in the Bahia Principe(not to be confused with Bahia Princess!).

Found this hotel in Direct Holidays(MyTravel) brochure and First Choice. For departure (ex-Gatwick) on 25/3 for two weeks, Direct holidays wanted 2,150 total for the two of us. This applied to both double room and suite. First Choice offered double room only for 2,110.

Went surfing and found I could book a scheduled return flight LGW-TFS-LGW (GB Airways) for 225 each(25/3) or 165 each(26/3). Hotel appeared on several sites, but cheapest was double for 1,360 and suite 1,472, both starting 26/3.

So I could book hotel and flight independently, and save c20%(double) or 14%(suite).

No wonder travel companies are finding bookings tough!

TightSlot
3rd Jun 2004, 19:39
I need to declare an interest, in that I work for a charter airline, and therefore a tour operator. That said, these are IMHO, points to consider:

1. Cost of transfer to hotac/accom via taxi?

2. Is hotac/accom half board i.e. as in brochure?

3. Most Tour Operator services are there not for when things go right, but for when they go wrong (contrary to popular understanding). Are you satisfied that you have appropriate protection for unfortunate eventualities while away?

If, after dealing with these questions, the answer is positive, then go for it!

Times are hard for Tour Operators, largely thanks to LoCo's and the Internet, and in some cases, their own stupidity. However, they do still offer a value added service that millions find convenient (not everybody has internet access, or the time and motivation to book that way). I believe that Tour Operators will adapt and survive in the new market, although maybe not all of them.

I expect that there may be other views taken about this...

newswatcher
5th Jun 2004, 13:32
Thanks for your reply Tight Slot. In answer:

1. I am planning to hire a car, and will do this airport-to-airport. Means I don't have to risk being the last to be dropped off, and I can leave it a bit later to leave the hotel at the end of my stay. The actual cost of the transfers was about 20 each way.

2. Accommodation board choice exactly same as brochure.

3. Hotel booking site claims to have local resort agent if there any problems.

In addition, GB Airways will "feed & water" us free of charge, whereas I have to pay for these on the charter flights.

It was also interesting that, when I tried to get a charter "flight only" deal, I couldn't get anything under 250/person from MyTravel/Britannia and First Choice. Excel were quoting 214/person.

Time taken to transact on the Internet, probably not a great deal different from having to go into nearest travel agent. The comparisons I gave were from online bookings at companies mentioned.

My unasked question should probably have been, if I can do it with that sort of a saving, at a "peak" travel time(Easter), shouldn't travel companies be able to get closer to the prices I found?

TightSlot
5th Jun 2004, 13:52
My unasked question should probably have been, if I can do it with that sort of a saving, at a "peak" travel time(Easter), shouldn't travel companies be able to get closer to the prices I found? Yes, the fact that they don't is a concern! Unless they actually manage to sell all the seats at those prices, in which case it must be good news for them... but not for you as a consumer. If they don't, then they're in trouble!
;)

WHBM
5th Jun 2004, 14:59
I think if you are a regular airline traveller, used to making your own bookings on business trips through the year, confident about getting taxis in an overseas airport or finding your rental car, etc, then you can often find you can string it all together yourself better and cheaper. And if it turns out more expensive, you can always fall back on the tour operator.

There are a lot of IT pax who just wouldn't know where to start with all this, and they are the staple market for tour operators. Unlikely to be PPRuNe readers of course ! However as time goes on more and more of us fall into category 1.

Tour operators need to find a way for such travellers to find real "added value" in what they do. This does not include for example having "on-site representatives" who are not paid to do this side of the job, only living on commissions on day excursions they sell. Nor does it include taking hours to do the transfers with a 50-seat coach picking up 5 people in one town, 3 people in another etc (all of whom were given the same time to be ready !). Expectations have moved on.

spork
5th Jun 2004, 17:54
I suppose also that you shouldn't forget that someone who provides you with a service is entitled to make a margin. Nobody is in business just to break-even. Having said that, when you do your own sums, and then look at the "same holiday" with various operators, it is astonishing how much some are adding on.

Have you ever talked to fellow holidaymakers who are actually impressed with the rather high price they paid? I've met them many a time, and I suppose you can't blame the operators for selling like that if they can.

singaporegirl
7th Jun 2004, 16:11
You should also remember that if things go wrong, it is easier to get redress if you have booked a package.

1. By law, all tour operators are required to provide financial protection for consumers. So if the operator goes bust, you will get your money back if you haven't travelled or will be brought back if you are abroad, at no cost to you. If you book independently and the airline goes bust, you may be able to claim from your credit card company if you paid by card and it cost more than 100, but incidental expenses (hotels, car hire etc) are unlikely to be covered.

2. If you have a problem with the hotel and can't sort it out while you're there, you can pursue the operator once you get home, and go through the smalls claim court or arbitration if you can't get satisfaction. It would be more difficult to pursue a case against a Spanish hotel in the the Spanish courts.

I'm not saying that this justifies the prices that tour ops charge - or that things are more likely to go wrong on a holiday booked independently! - just that this is another part of the mix that is often overlooked.

newswatcher
8th Jun 2004, 10:06
:hmm: Singaporegirl have you ever tried to get redress from a package holiday company?

singaporegirl
8th Jun 2004, 11:36
Actually, newswatcher, I spend half my time telling people about the best ways to get redress (and the other half telling them how to avoid getting into that situation in the first place). :O

Nick Riviera
8th Jun 2004, 12:04
Singaporegirl

Not sure on this, but I don't think there is a minimum limit on claiming goods and services back from your credit card company if they are not provided as booked. And it does cover car hire, I know as I had to claim the cost back last year when I booked a car with a firm which went bust. The refund was very quick as well.

Travel independently - but always pay by credit card.

singaporegirl
8th Jun 2004, 13:38
Nick
Whether you pay for faulty goods or services in cash or by credit card, your rights are against the seller. However, the Consumer Credit Act 1974 provides added protection where you buy goods or services using a credit card, as long as the price of the item purchased was over 100. So if you buy a no-frills flight costing 49.99 by credit card and the airline collapses, you would not be able to claim a refund from your credit card company. (Incidentally, you don't have to pay the full amount by credit card. Say the flight cost 149.99 and you paid 50 deposit by credit card and the rest by cheque - you would still be covered.)

The example I gave about car hire not being covered was as an incidental expense. So if you book direct with a car hire company using a credit card and the car hire company goes bust, you would be able to claim a refund from your credit card company, as long as it was more than 100.

However, say you booked a flight and car hire independently (ie it was not a fly-drive package). If the airline went bust and you lost your flight, you should be able to get a refund from your credit card company for the flight (if it cost more than 100). But the car hire company is still in business and able to fulfil its contract, even though you may now not be able to get there because your airline has gone bust. In this case, the credit card company is unlikely to refund you for the cost of car hire.

newswatcher
9th Jun 2004, 08:21
Singaporegirl, although the subject has deviated from the original point of the thread, you appear to speak with good authority on the subject.

However, with respect to credit card payments, isn't there some cloudinness with respect to where the point of sale occurred? In other words, if I pay for hotel accommodation from a company based in Spain, I am not sure I am covered by Section 75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act 1977, on the 100 rule.(our hotel is booked through UK company!)

singaporegirl
9th Jun 2004, 12:21
You're quite right, newswatcher - this is a bit of a grey area (as far as the credit card companies are concerned, anyway). The Office of Fair Trading takes the view that all credit card transactions are covered by section 75, but some CC companies beg to differ. Some say that all transactions are covered; others say they will look at each individual case.

To add fat to the fire, draft EU legislation, currently under debate, would result in section 75 being abolished to bring the UK in line with the rest of Europe, which has no such protection. :(