Some people will have had their holiday booked well in advance, but this year you're not one of them. You're on a tight budget and it's taken you far too long to get your act together, starting to worry you'll have already missed out on the best hotels and destinations. Fear not, for that's what late deals are for. As someone with a bit of industry know-how, I thought I'd weigh in on the late deals conversation and tell you what you should know in order to get the most out of a late package deal for Summer 2018.
Know what you want out of your holiday
You might think there will be limited availability of everything by June, only to go straight into a spiral of open browser tabs, clicking frantically between them all trying to figure out which one you want to look back on. Knowing exactly what you want out of your holiday weeds out all of the unnecessary offerings and helps you to stay organised when looking for your ideal trip abroad. Decide which type of accommodation you are after and at what star rating, which airport you will fly from and the dates you would like to travel. You can even narrow your search down on a monetary basis, so you can view only accommodation that is within your price range.
Know what is left to choose from
Even if there is still an abundance of places to visit, there will be lots of hotels that were swiped up long ago. Resorts and flights are filling up quickly, especially with so many of us combing the last minute offers, so it's a good idea to do your homework on countries and resorts you would like to visit. Keep your eyes on social media and figure out where people are going this summer. There's a good chance some of these destinations are hot on the radar and could plunge in availability and grow in price during peak season. If you want to get super savvy, check the ABTA Travel Trends report. Up and coming destinations predicted to be some of the most sought-after are featured here, so you can see what might be more costly if you're on a budget.
Know when to book...
Ever seen a totally different price for the exact same hotel and board when browsing over a range of possible dates? Tour operators might seem sneaky but, from a business point of view, they are actually being very clever. Luckily for you, it could work in your favour.
...when picking your dates
Think about it: tour operators want to sell their product and sell it at the best price they can get away with. Prices are driven upwards when the season is at its peak and school is out for the holidays. But whether you're bound by term-time or not, you can be relatively flexible. Prices fluctuate on a yield management system that tries to ensure seats and rooms are filled. Failing to sell a seat on a plane or a room in a hotel is a wasted resource that equals big losses for travel companies. Any amount of money is better than none at all, right? This is where late deals come from, so when scouring what's on offer pick a date that currently has the tour operator panicking. 'Really early' deals on sun holidays, from April to the end of June and 'really late' deals from the end of August to October tend to be cheapest. If you're extremely flexible, booking yourself a holiday with a week's notice and travelling mid-week is best.
...when sealing the deal
Okay, so you've picked your destination: now it's time to book it and book it quickly! Try to finalise your holiday plans mid-week. Tour planners know the weekend is the most popular time for holiday hunters to be searching the web, so prices will take a steady increase. Try to also avoid the mistake of booking on, or just after, pay-day weekend. You could be paying upwards of £50 per person with a day's, or even an hour's, difference. Take it from me. It was three years ago and it still hurts a bit...
Getting the timing exactly right is hard, maybe even impossible, but the trick is to be clever make sure you get the right deal for you when you see it. Just beware - if you've shortlisted a hotel and want to go back to visit it later, the price might have increased. The truth is, the tug of war between supply and demand sees everything!
Know when to fly
The same rules apply for booking flights, especially if there's an upcoming mega-event in the destination you've chosen. Lads and ladies into your football, take note: as soon as teams for the group stages are drawn live on air, fingers need to be on buzzers! If you're booking your flights and accommodation separately you will need to be especially aware of swinging price ranges. Again, this is why late deals on package holidays are so convenient since your flight is included in the discount. Notice, however, how the tour operator offers you more comfortable flight times with other airports and airlines if you fork out a little bit more cash? If you're not picky about flying through the night, you stand a better chance of stealing a good deal without paying any extra.
Know the destination before you book
This one is a no-brainer. We might see the shimmering aqua colour of the swimming pool and the glossy, newly-refurbished rooms, but if you land and hop off the bus into your resort and you immediately realise it isn't for you, it's pretty much too late to turn around and go back home. I mean, you could, but would you? Rushing to book a hotel without checking the resort can be a risk, especially if you book over the phone or in a travel agency. Booking over the phone, in particular, can often get you the cheapest of deals, but always do your research before you commit to somewhere you haven't yet been able to get acquainted with. Your accommodation is only a fragment of your holiday; hotel and resort amenities and attractions need to be enjoyably memorable for you too, so read the reviews and Google the area to make sure you get the best out of it.
Now you've got the tips for getting the most out of a late deal, start looking!
We know it's not an exact science with prices and availability shifting all the time, but each of these little tricks will benefit you in getting the best and the cheapest late deal on offer as you search. Now go and grab a bargain and escape to the sun!
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