Jetting away on a family holiday may seem increasingly unaffordable, but there are ways to ensure you get the best possible deal.
Marlies Kappers, head of marketing at DirectAxis Financial Services, says that like any other financial decision, a bit of research and planning can save money and take a lot of stress out of booking your annual getaway.
She says it’s important to set the budget first and then match the holiday to what you’re prepared to spend. Getting the family excited about going somewhere before you know the costs could result in disappointment or spending a lot more than you intended.
DirectAxis spoke to kulula.com, South Africa’s largest digital travel network and one of the country’s top online retailers by revenue, to find out how best to enjoy a great getaway without busting the budget.
Iain Meaker, Comair’s executive commercial distribution, says a little insider knowledge goes a long way towards getting the best value for money.
Airlines sell the cheaper, less flexible tickets first. They know these seats will sell quickly.
To make sure that customers don’t change their minds at the last minute and leave the airline with unsold seats, they charge penalties to make changes to these cheap bookings.
The cheaper prices are generally below cost of carriage, so the closer it is to the departure date with less available seats, the more you will pay.
Planning ahead, even up to a year in advance, will ensure you get the best possible deal on your flights.
Another tip is to try to book outside peak periods. If you’re a family with children in school, this isn’t always possible, although you can still try to avoid busy days at the beginning or end of school terms, when fares are typically higher. Better still, if your children aren’t yet in school, try to avoid flying during holidays.
“Airlines have incredibility sophisticated revenue-management systems to ensure they maximise their revenue on every seat, but the underlying concept is simply supply and demand. When there are more seats available and fewer people want to travel, the fares are lower and vice versa,” says Meaker.
Booking packaged offerings that include accommodation and car hire can also help keep costs down. Companies such as kulula holidays use their buying power to negotiate favourable deals with hotel and car hire groups, which is why the package is usually better value, not to mention more convenient, than booking everything separately.
In some cases you can even pre-book holiday activities, either before you depart or at your destination. This can save you money and also makes it easier to stick to your budget. Doing things on a whim can get expensive.
“Besides the convenience of being able to plan and book your holiday online, you can compare destinations, accommodation, activity and prices. Use sites such as TripAdvisor to get independent reviews.
"By comparing offerings and others’ experiences, rather than booking the first holiday that takes your fancy, you can ensure that you are getting the best holiday at the best price,” says Meaker.