The ex­pert view

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - CONSUMER ADVICE -

Wor­ried about the col­lapse in the value of the pound? Think­ing of putting off your hol­i­day plans? My ad­vice is don’t. Get out there and book now. While, it’s cer­tainly true that you will be pay­ing a lit­tle more for your hol­i­day than you might have hoped, you are likely to get much bet­ter value by act­ing sooner rather than wait­ing to see what hap­pens to the ex­change rate in the hope that it will im­prove.

What’s the logic be­hind this? Since the Brexit vote, the pound has dropped in value by roughly 20 per cent against the dol­lar, and a lit­tle less against the euro. Un­less some­thing hap­pens to desta­bilise the euro or the US dol­lar, ster­ling is likely to re­main weak for a cou­ple of years – at the very least.

A weak pound not only makes for­eign coun­tries more ex­pen­sive when we get there, but also means that the cost of trav­el­ling will rise, be­cause fuel – whether for planes, or ships – is priced in US dol­lars. Only if the oil price also falls, which isn’t look­ing likely, will we be spared hefty fare rises.

How­ever, not all these price rises will hit us im­me­di­ately. Air­lines and tour op­er­a­tors know that they are vul­ner­a­ble to sud­den col­lapses in the value of the pound and, as a re­sult, hedge against it. In other words, they guar­an­tee the ex­change rate that they are go­ing to have to pay in ad­vance. The same process can be used to pro­tect against a ris­ing oil price too.

As long as they don’t try to profit un­fairly from the sit­u­a­tion, what pro­tects them should pro­tect us too. Of course, if the pound strength­ens un­ex­pect­edly, they – and we – lose out. But in this case few peo­ple were pre­dict­ing a Brexit vote, so any tour op­er­a­tor or air­line which did buy cur­rency in ad­vance be­fore June is cer­tain to have ob­tained it at a much bet­ter rate than we are fac­ing now.

So this sea­son’s win­ter sun and ski pack­ages, and even some of next sum­mer’s of­fer­ings, were priced when the pound was buy­ing over €1.30, rather than to­day’s rate of €1.10. And op­tions on aviation fuel are of­ten bought more than a year in ad­vance. In short, by book­ing your flight or a pack­age hol­i­day now you can do much to off­set the fall in ster­ling.

Where will the best value be? Be­cause you pay for ev­ery­thing in ster­ling in ad­vance and won’t even have to pay for food and drink in the lo­cal cur­rency, all-in­clu­sive pack­ages will of­fer max­i­mum value in the short term. If you can find a ski pack­age which also of­fers the chance to book your lift pass and equip­ment hire in ster­ling, that is likely to of­fer good value too.

How­ever, do check the euro price quoted on the re­sort web­site to make sure you re­ally are get­ting a de­cent deal – many re­sorts have an early book­ing dis­count, for ex­am­ple.

Cruises too are much more likely to rise in price over the com­ing months. And if you are plan­ning a long-haul flight in the next year or so, you will prob­a­bly do well to book it sooner rather than later, too.

is­sues” with the lodge’s reser­va­tions link. The lodge says it can­not ac­com­mo­date us as it is now full. Book­ing.com has sug­gested we stay at Mount Her­mon Sa­fari Cot­tages, 25 miles from the park.

It has said it will pay the price dif­fer­ence of around £121 if we sub­mit re­ceipts on our re­turn. We have re­jected this of­fer as this is too far from the park, but Book­ing.com says there is nowhere closer that it can book. Time is very short as we travel to Zam­bia soon. What are our op­tions? JAYNE DEAR

AThank good­ness you con­tacted the lodge be­fore turn­ing up on its doorstep to find no room at the inn. I un­der­stand that Mvuu Lodge did get in touch with you via Book­ing. com’s mes­sag­ing ser­vice soon af­ter you made the reser­va­tion, ask­ing if you were part of the Tiger Cup fish­ing event – but you didn’t re­spond as you weren’t part of it. When­ever a mes­sage like this comes through from a prop­erty, it is im­por­tant to en­gage in case it throws up a prob­lem with the reser­va­tion. There has clearly been some sloppy house­keep­ing here, es­pe­cially given that, a week af­ter alert­ing Book­ing.com to the prob­lem, the lodge could still be booked on its site for dates you have been told are no longer avail­able.

We de­cided that the best way for­ward was for you to re­jig your itin­er­ary to stay at Mvuu Lodge at the end of your trip. For­tu­nately, you were able to swap dates with an­other lodge on your itin­er­ary which gen­er­ously waived the change penalty.

You also asked Mvuu Lodge for com­pen­sa­tion for its ad­min­is­tra­tive fail­ures and it has agreed to pro­vide two com­pli­men­tary brunches val­ued at $200 (£160).

I like Book­ing.com’s busi­ness model, where the cus­tomer pays the ho­tel di­rect on ar­rival. Many prop­er­ties don’t even take a de­posit but sim­ply hold card de­tails as se­cu­rity against a no-show. How­ever, as Jayne Dear’s ex­pe­ri­ence shows, if you are book­ing some­where re­mote that may not have a long as­so­ci­a­tion with an on­line agent, it is worth dou­ble-check­ing the reser­va­tion is se­cure by con­tact­ing the prop­erty us­ing the site’s “Book­ing Mes­sages” fa­cil­ity.

Book­ing.com’s pol­icy is that, if a ho­tel can­not hon­our a reser­va­tion, it must find an ac­cept­able al­ter­na­tive of a sim­i­lar or su­pe­rior stan­dard and pay any dif­fer­ence in cost. This is rel­a­tively easy in a city or a big tourist area but can be a prob­lem at short no­tice in a re­mote lo­ca­tion.

I was im­pressed with Book­ing.com’s en­gage­ment with you. It has a 24-hour, in-house cus­tomer ser­vice de­part­ment with more than 6,000 staff and re­sponded quickly to emails. Agents, who had al­ready fa­mil­iarised them­selves with the prob­lem, phoned you sev­eral times in an at­tempt to find a res­o­lu­tion. It will also be pay­ing you $250 (£200) fol­low­ing your stay as a good­will ges­ture.

Ques­tions should be sent by email to ask­the­ex­perts@ tele­graph.co.uk. Please pro­vide your name and near­est town and, if your query is about a dis­pute with a travel com­pany, your full ad­dress, day­time tele­phone num­ber and any book­ing ref­er­ence. We re­gret that we can­not an­swer postal or tele­phone queries.

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