Death of the seven-night holiday?

HolidayExtras.com has introduced ‘Extra Days Parking’ in response to high demand from holiday makers who are bucking the age old trend of taking seven or 14 night trips and opting for longer stays instead.

The travel add-ons company has seen a huge increase in customers wanting to book 16 to 24 days parking to accommodate their longer holidays abroad. Over a ten day testing period HolidayExtras.com found that on average 3,500 people a day are requesting 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 days parking durations.

The figures released today are backed up by the Office for National Statistics, which has reported an increase in average night’s stay for leisure holidays over the past five years; figures show from 2005 to 2009 the average length of stay has increased from 10.1 to 10.5 nights*. It seems for long-haul holidays to locations such as Australia, the USA and the Caribbean, holiday makers are staying on average for 26 nights and for short haul holidays to Europe for nine nights**.

Anthony Clarke-Cowell, head of product innovation and merchandising at HolidayExtras.com said: “Most operators offer a parking stay of up to eight or 15 days and any extra days have traditionally been charged to the customer when they return from holiday.

“In recognition of this problem and as part of our on-going quest to make booking a holiday hassle-free, HolidayExtras.com has developed a system that allows customers to buy those extra days hotel parking up front. This means no more unpleasant surprises for customers who are charged for extras days on return from holiday – not ideal when all you have on you is foreign currency.”

 

Revealed: UK’s attitudes to taxes and charges

Reports in the media suggest that Which? is planning to lodge a super-complaint with the Office of Fair Trading, asking it to investigate the level of fees imposed by some companies when customers pay for flights with credit or debit cards. Expedia.co.uk does not apply its own credit card fees or automatically add charges for additional services to the price at the end of the booking process.

In the wake of this debate, Expedia has undertaken research to better understand consumer attitudes to fees and travel booking charges.

The survey commissioned by Expedia and run by independent research company, ResearchNow questioned over 700 regular UK travelers.  It was supported by in depth interviews conducted by independent consultancy, The Value Engineers.

Low cost airlines have changed the way consumers think about flight booking fees.  Over 95% of travelers expect low cost airlines to charge additional fees on top of the headline price.  Consumers are resigned to the fact that booking travel will involve paying extra fees and charges.

A significant source of discontent is flight booking web sites that show an initially attractive price, but then add significant additional charges in the final stages of the booking process.  Around one in four consumers felt so strongly about this that they would abandon their booking to find an alternative deal out of principle on seeing such fees, even if the flight they had found met all their other needs.

While 32% of people considered it highly unacceptable to charge credit card fees, 53% stated that charging fees for debit card payments was a completely unacceptable practice.  During research interviews with The Value Engineers, respondents reported seeing wildly different levels of fees being charged for both credit and debit card payments on different web sites.

Other additional fees that irked customers were:

59% think check in fees at the airport are highly unacceptable

53% think online check in fees are highly unacceptable

44% think fees for checking in bags to the hold are highly unacceptable

21% think fees for online seat selection are highly unacceptable

Surprisingly, when asked about other potential fees that airlines might charge in the future, 84% stated that they would find it unacceptable to be charged to use the on-board toilet- meaning 16% might consider paying for the privilege!

Andrew Warner of Expedia, says, “The level of regulatory fees and taxes incorporated into flight prices in the UK has increased dramatically – particularly with the introduction of increased Air Passenger Duty levies. This has placed a higher cost burden on the British traveler.  They are looking for travel retailers to be open and fair when it comes to additional charges on their web sites.

“The consumer protection, offered by credit cards, means travelers are less reluctant to pay a small fee for using a credit card than a debit card.  However the fact that some companies do not reveal credit card-fees until the end of the booking process, if at all, can make it harder for travelers to judge the best deal.  Expedia.co.uk does not apply its own credit card fees or automatically add charges for additional services to the price at the end of the booking process.”

In order to better enable travelers to make informed choices between airlines and flight deals, Expedia.co.uk is now highlighting those airlines who do not levy their own credit card fees upfront in flight search results.

Organisation offers sympathy and guidance in wake of Japanese disaster

HolidayTravelWatch has watched with horror at the devastation caused by the Japanese earthquake and the subsequent after-shocks and Tsunamis.

Our Organisation extends profound sympathies to the Japanese people for the suffering and loss they have endured.

As a consequence of this disaster there are clear travel problems for those British Consumers who are visiting the affected regions.  Such problems could arise through cancelled flights, sudden changes to package holidays or problems with travel Insurance cover.

If you are affected by a flight cancellation, EC Regulation 261/2004 provides you with a right to a refund of the air ticket or re-routing and/or a right to care if you become stranded at a foreign airport.  Because the flight was cancelled as a result of a natural disaster, it will mean that no compensation is payable under the Regulation; in those cases you should seek further assistance from your Travel Insurer.

If you are about to travel on a package holiday to the region affected, your trip may be subject to significant changes.  If that is the case, then Regulation’s 12 & 13 of the Package Travel Regulations provide that the tour operator must advise you before departure and give you the option to cancel without penalty or to accept the changes.  They also have to offer you alternatives, including the option of receiving a full refund.  Again, because this relates to a natural disaster, compensation will not be payable.

We always advise that before you travel to any ‘risk destination’, that you check with your travel insurer that you will be covered.  If they refuse cover, you must advise your tour operator as soon as possible because travelling without travel insurance is not only not a good idea, but it will very likely be contrary to the terms and conditions of your package holiday contact! You must give the tour operator the opportunity to help you resolve this problem!

Frank Brehany, the Consumer Director for HolidayTravelWatch states,

“I was shocked to see the images coming out of Japan and I am concerned for the safety of other countries in the Pacific Rim and the safety of holidaymakers.  I offer my deepest sympathy and respect for the people of Japan and hope they can recover and rebuild quickly from this disaster.  My thoughts also naturally rest with holidaymakers and would suggest that our guidance may help them focus on key travel rights in the next few days”.