With the Internet, everybody thinks they are a travel agent now! But if something is too good to be true…well you can finish the sentence off yourself I’m sure. As travel profesionals we do this every day and we see the potential problems that the general public don’t appreciate and consequently avoid the “amazing offer” which was too good to be true.
A travel industry colleague recently told a tale which should be a warning to those people who arrange their own flights and hotels separately; apart from having no ATOL protection you are placed in the hands of hoteliers who overbook (double book their rooms), websites that don’t confirm reservations with hotels and a whole host of other problems which can ruin your holiday.
The professional travel adviser received an enquiry last summer and having quoted for the holiday he received an email telling that they had the USA Xmas Holiday £500 cheaper online. As a professional he pointed out the pit falls but his warnings went unheeded.
2 days before travelling he received an email advising that their 3 nights New Years hotel had been cancelled due to over booking. They incorrectly stated “This would have happened if I book through you as well, so can you help me”. He responded stating that our hotels are guaranteed and not likely to be overbooked as this costs the hotel money as our contract requires them to rearrange your accommodation at their expense. So for the hotel concerned it is far cheaper to cancel her online booking. He went on to to advise that as you travel tomorrow he would be unable to assist. The “clients” repsonded that they had booked another hotel already, but it was lower quality and £300 more.
And these are the reasons why companies like Booking.com, Trivago, Hotels.com, Expedia, and other online booking often seem (mistakenly) cheaper and put you in the firing line to be the first to get bumped when they overbook. Think about it, you make one booking at their hotel and the travel industry suppliers book thousands – who would you prioritise?