When it comes to hol­i­day plan­ning, sooner is cheaper

Ad­vance book­ings, on­line deals save cash

Kathimerini English - - Life - BY NELLY ABRA­VANEL

Spe­cial­ized web­sites know it and travel agents have al­ways said so. It also gets the “likes” fly­ing on Face­book: When it comes to hol­i­day plan­ning, the sooner the bet­ter. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Euro­barom­e­ter pub­lic opin­ion sur­vey, seven out of 10 Greeks will be opt­ing for a lo­cal hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion this sum­mer. But have they booked in ad­vance? When you’re on a tight bud­get, plan­ning ahead is vi­tal, even if this plan­ning only con­cerns a few days of re­lax­ation.

Speak­ing to Kathimerini re­cently, the pres­i­dent of the Hel­lenic Ho­tel Fed­er­a­tion, Yian­nis Ret­sos, stressed the im­por­tance of book­ing early: The sooner ahead you plan, the bet­ter fi­nan­cial deal you’ll get.

In early May, an on­line Kathimerini sur­vey took a look at hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion prices for the June 1320 pe­riod. The sur­vey was con­ducted through a spe­cial­ized book­ings site and fo­cused on stu­dio ac­com­mo­da­tion for two at 10 pop­u­lar lo­cal des­ti­na­tions. At the time, the low­est price for a seven-night stay could be found on Corfu (112 eu­ros), while Pilio topped the list with prices start­ing at 245 eu­ros. At the be­gin­ning of this month, Kathimerini re­peated the sur­vey, adding an­other two reser­va­tion web­sites in or­der to record broader re­sults.

The con­clu­sion reached? Trav­el­ers who had planned in ad­vance and had made early book­ings for the re­cent bank hol­i­day week­end ended up spend­ing 15 to 35 per­cent less than those who left their ar­range­ments un­til the last minute. This was true of des­ti­na­tions such as Corfu, Kos, Paros, San­torini and Irak­lio, Crete. In the case of Rhodes, Zakyn­thos, Halkidiki, Ha­nia and Pilio, prices were more or less the same.

So, now that Au­gust is just a mat­ter of weeks, get busy and plan ahead. As price lists for ac­com­mo­da­tion go up dur­ing the so-called high sea­son, one way to save money is on trans­porta­tion. Things are more flex­i­ble when it comes to fer­ries, for in­stance. A num­ber of com­pa­nies of­fer 15-20 per­cent re­duc­tions on reg­u­lar tick­ets through e-book­ings, while com­pa­nies whose fer­ries travel to Crete fea­ture of­fers such as free ve­hi­cle trans­porta­tion. In the field of air travel, a re­cent of­fer for lo­cal des­ti­na­tions by a Greek air­line com­pany was telling: 39 eu­ros for pas­sen­gers fly­ing into Athens and 59 eu­ros for those trav­el­ing from Athens. A few days ago, the com­pany’s CEO talked about how plan­ning in ad­vance al­ways leads to bet­ter deals for trav­el­ers. Travel agents warn trav­el­ers to beware of such of­fers, how­ever, be­cause they usu­ally do not pay out re­funds for can­cel­la­tions, while chang­ing your travel dates comes at a high price.

Speak­ing to Kathimerini, travel agency rep­re­sen­ta­tives noted that get­ting bet­ter prices for book­ing early is noth­ing new in the mar­ket and, con­se­quently, is not nec­es­sar­ily the an­swer dur­ing the cur­rent fi­nan­cial cri­sis. Early book­ings, they say, es­pe­cially when it comes to trans­porta­tion, have al­ways pointed to lower prices for trav­el­ers while fa­cil­i­tat­ing the task of the travel agents them­selves.

Ad­vance book­ings, how­ever, are pre­cisely that. If you book as early as four to five months ahead of your Au­gust va­ca­tion, the cost of trans­porta­tion may be as much as 50 per­cent less than the sum­mer rates. In this light, it is no co­in­ci­dence that one com­pany urges its clients to book early through a spe­cial link on its web­site, where the ad­van­tages of such prac­tices are ex­plained in de­tail: “It is a well-known fact that the ma­jor­ity of Greeks make their sum­mer travel ar­range­ments at the very last minute. It also a well-known fact that air­line com­pa­nies have changed their reser­va­tion sys­tems and are now of­fer­ing more than one price for econ­omy-class seats. In prac­tice, this means that the sooner you plan you trip, the eas­ier it is to ob­tain avail­able seats – at the low­est pos­si­ble price.”

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