As the Marketing Director for a travel/holiday company, I’m always being asked on the best way to save money on holidays (vacations). As I’m privy to a lot of insider information about pricing, I’m always happy to share this information with friends and family. Here are my best 6 tips.
Some things benefit from early booking, some don’t. Typically, hotel prices will drop the closer you get to your arrival date, but you may miss out on your preferred date or location. Villas and apartments are similar in that holiday companies will want to sell them for something rather than leave them empty, but this will only work if you’re booking through the travel company directly rather than a travel agent – travel agents have nothing to lose if it is unsold because they work on a commission basis. Sometimes, it is worth putting in a late request to owners on the “owners direct” type websites but beware that they are typically not bonded or covered by regulations, so standards may slip for a “cheaper” booking. The exception to this is very early booking, when a travel company will often give a discount (or free car hire etc) for an advance booking (typically more than 6 months in advance). Flights – well predictably, they’re different! As a general rule, they tend to increase in price from their release to the flight date, so booking early is advised. And car hire – just make sure that you book it from home as you won’t want to see the prices once you arrive at your holiday destination!
Try one of the travel industry “innovations” such as auctions, deals or clubs Many reputable and bonded companies now run travel auctions, either via an auction site such as eBay or directly on their own website. There are numerous other tricks and innovations, such as “Buy one, get one free” holidays, typically for people who are able (and prepared) to travel in the off-season. There are a number of holiday “clubs” springing up that offer their “members” holidays discounted by huge percentages. Never be tempted to pay to be a “member” but sign up to a few to receive their offers – and always check the prices before booking to make sure they really are being offered at the discount stated.
Be aware of booking seasonsThere are different booking seasons as well as holiday seasons, and being aware of them is crucial in bagging a bargain. For example, villa companies make a lot of sales for summer arrivals in December and January, so are less inclined to shave the price. However, they’d like to be selling some apartments and hotels, but there is less demand – at these times, you can often negotiate a deal on something that has less demand. Another seasonal factor is your arrival date. On the Greek Islands, the season runs from May to October, with peak being July and August. Holiday companies will take contracts on their villas and apartments for the entire season and know that they are likely to sell availability in the peak season, when demand is high, but unlikely to sell out in the shoulder months. Consider travelling in May, September and October, when you are more likely to get a discount, and if you’re a couple or smaller party, you could ask for a villa for the price of an apartment – this can sometimes work because family villas are less popular outside school holiday periods – and just enjoy some extra space at no extra cost.
Register for newsletters This is all about information and choice. Only register for the companies that you would trust to take you on holiday, so your inbox isn’t cluttered up by endless travel emails! However, most companies advertise their cheap holiday deals and offers via their newsletter, often when they don’t advertise them on the website because they want the unsuspecting “just found the website” booker to have the chance to pay full price. Don’t be that person!
Ask and you may receive, don’t ask and you won’t. Always speak with a representative of the company before you book. This is essential, general advice, as you’ll be able to gauge how you are likely to be treated on your holiday. Do they remember you? Do they respond to you quickly? Are they pleasant? And while you’re talking to them… ask if you can have a discount! It is very unlikely that they’ll ever offer, so if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. Just be aware that sometimes, when you do ask, you won’t receive either! Don’t make your holiday choice based only on price – if you save a little but have a far worse holiday, then that saving just isn’t worth it. On a personal note, I’d advise only booking with a specialist – ask questions, let them do your research, because ultimately, that’s what you’re paying for and they should be able to find you the holiday that fits your requirements. Look for services such as a holiday personal shopper that allows you to specify your exact needs, or phone and ask questions.
Go where the locals go. If you’re eating with your fellow country folk, you will be paying more than the locals. Even worse, you’ll probably be eating worse food because you’re not as fussy as the locals! Be a little adventurous (without being dangerous) in everything you do, whether that be the beach you use, the shop where you buy your groceries or where you eat. It’s also more likely that you’ll be helping the local economy rather than giving money over to a multinational chain, so you can even feel good about what you’re doing!
I hope that by using some of these tips, you’ll be able to save yourself some money AND have a better holiday. Even if you’ve already booked your holiday for the year, you may want to take advantage of the saving advice on, say, car hire or where to eat on holiday.
My company, SunIsle Holidays, are Greek Island holiday specialists and run many of the services that I have advocated here, for the benefit of the holidaymaker, such as a personal shopper service [web: sunisle.co.uk/personalshopper.asp] and an auction service called Make An Offer, along with facilities to search by requirements, ask an expert, call us or read honest (unedited) feedback from returning guests.Nick Farrington-Darby is the Marketing Director for Greek Island holiday specialist, SunIsle Holidays. SunIsle have over 260 properties, from villas and apartments to family-run hotels for rental on 20 Greek Islands, mainly in quieter, more private areas, to suit all budgets and requirements. SunIsle encourage people to use SunIsle’s expert knowledge to find their perfect holiday, and have a personal shopper service [web: sunisle.co.uk/personalshopper.asp] to help make recommendations.