Get it booked

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By Amy Wall

We spend all year looking forward to our summer escape. For many of us, it’s our only chance to hit the pause button life, to relax and to unwind. This means that there’s a lot of pressure on us to book the best break and to ensure we have a great time. With so many different packages out there and so many ways of booking, it can be overwhelming when you’re just starting to think about going away. So what’s the best way to book and where is everyone heading for summer 2019? Here’s all the information you need.

 

BOOKING WITH A TRAVEL WEBSITE

Paul Hackett is CEO of the travel website www.clickandgo.com

Why is it a good idea to book your holiday with a travel website?

It’s a good idea to book with a travel website that combines value with expert advice and support. Booking with a travel website is most beneficial when the online travel company offers packaged holidays where all elements of the holiday can be booked on one website – flights, transfers and accommodation. It’s a good idea to book with a travel website that is licenced and bonded by the Commission for Aviation Regulation. That way, your holiday and money is protected should something go wrong.

A lot of people are still cagey about booking holidays online. How can people ensure they’re booking on a reputable website? Are there any tell-tale signs that the website you’re on is dodgy?

Always look out for the ‘licenced and bonded by the Commission for Aviation Regulation’ logos and licence number. Also keep an eye for customer reviews from the travel website. See what other customers are saying about the travel brand. Check if the website has a local Irish number. May sure the website uses a secure payment platform.

Many people turn to online travel sites because they can offer better value for money> is there anything people need to be aware of if they’re opting for cheaper packagers?

Always check what is included in your holiday package. For example, when selecting an airline, hand luggage may or may not be included and may be an additional charge.

How important is it to read the fine print when booking online?

It would be very important. Reading the small print will let you know what exactly is included in your holiday with no surprises.

Do you have any tips for people who will be booking their holiday online this year?

Book with an Irish website. Check that the website offers support in Ireland in case you do need to make any changes after booking.

What destinations will you be recommending to people for summer 2019?

Families will always get the best value in the Canaries and Portugal. We always recommend Lanzarote and the Algarve for family-friendly hotels with great facilities and beaches. Camping holidays are also becoming increasingly more popular, as camping resorts have amazing family facilities. For the more seasoned traveller, Croatia and Greece have increased flight capacity in 2019 which is very exciting for us at Click&Go.

What is your number one travel tip?

Always take out travel insurance.

 

 

BOOKING A HOTEL STAYCATION

Niall Kerins is General Manager at the Ice House Hotel, Co Mayo, www.icehousehotel.ie

Why should people opt for a staycation this year?

It’s a great way to see our beautiful country. I think a lot of people, myself included, have yet to visit many parts of Ireland and a staycation is such a great way of exploring. When planning a staycation, look at your own interests and marry these up with areas in Ireland. It might be getting out there and enjoying the outdoors, fishing, walking tours or you might just want to curl up with a good book and get away from it all in front of a roaring fire – whatever it is, there is something to suit everyone’s tastes in Ireland.

Have you seen a rise in summer staycations in recent years?

Absolutely. We’ve seen it here in our own property, with the introduction of tourism initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way – which has help hugely in encouraging Irish guests to holiday in the country. I think we saw an increase in this first during recessionary times where people decided to stay for their holidays and since then people have started to realise that we can holiday in Ireland and enjoy all it has to offer. Even if the weather isn’t always favourable!

Benefits of staying in a hotel for your holiday?

Staying in a hotel offers comfort and relaxation and you have all the modern conveniences you need while away from home. Another benefit is that hotel staff can be very knowledgeable of the area that you are staying in and can help plan your itineraries rather than you spending hours trying to fit everything in.

A lot of people say that staying in Ireland for a summer holiday can be very expensive – would you agree with this?

I would say that if you plan your holiday in advance and know where and what you want to do then you can get very competitive value. Hotels are always offering deals and incentives for guests to stay with them and this does include the summer season. Planning in advance does offer a better rate. For last minute bookings, value can still be found if you shop around as there are always last-minute deals to be had. I think if people have a budget they will find a package to suit their requirements.

Is it always best to book directly or are you likely to get a better deal if you do it on a third-party website?

We in hotels will always say book direct, hotel websites offer the best value to their customers. If you have specific needs or requirements, I would suggest calling the hotel directly and they can tailor a package to suit your needs. Hotels offer in-house promotions at certain times of the year and by calling directly you can be advised on which will work out better value for you.

The age-old question – is there anything you can do to improve your chances of getting a free upgrade?

Upgrades can be available and should be asked for. When making a reservation, if you are coming to the hotel to celebrate a special occasion you should make this known at reservation stage so the hotel can note this and they may give an upgrade if available. Asking for an upgrade on the day of check in is less likely to happen as hotels have their allocations done for the day. So ask in advance of your stay!

 

 

BOOKING A TOUR

Sara Zimmerman is CEO of tour operator www.traveldepartment.ie

Why is it a good idea to book a tour as opposed to a package holiday?

A guided group holiday gives you everything that you’d get on a regular package and so much more. Every Travel Department tour includes not only flights, transfers and carefully selected hotels, but also excursions and the services of an expert local guide. Our guides really make all the difference, providing amazing insight into each destination, and even giving advice and recommendations for your free time. On a tour, there’s the added benefit of travelling with like-minded people and the opportunity to make new friends along the way.

How important is it to know what’s included in your itinerary before you book?

It’s critical to know what’s included, otherwise you might find that trip that looked great value in fact turned out to be far more expensive than what you expected. Things to check include whether transfers are included. What about excursions? How many meals? That will have an impact on your budget and your spending money. It’s a good idea to check how much free time you get, after all it is a holiday and rest and relaxation is as important as those cultural visits.

What else do people need to be aware of before they book?

You should always take out holiday insurance. It’s great value and it’s surprising how many people forget and then go on to regret it later. Make sure the tour is right for you. How many excursions are there? How much walking is involved? How long are the excursions? Make sure you check exactly what’s included in the price and when payments are due.

Are tour packages a good way to meet new people?

They are a perfect way to meet people. Our tours typically include a great cross-section of people: couples, friends travelling together and single travellers. They all mix extremely well and often join up at mealtimes. We hear numerous stories of customers having met on one of our tours and then going on to meet up regularly back at home and even to holiday together for years afterwards.

What destinations will you be recommending for summer 2019?

There are almost too many to name! Italy is always a firm favourite: anything from the beautiful Lake Garda to the lesser-known Puglia with its fascinating Trulli. Of the more unusual destinations, we are seeing a huge growth in interest in Eastern Europe.

What is your number one travel tip?

Can I suggest two? Firstly, travelling should be a pleasure, from the moment you start to plan a trip, all the way through to your return home – book a guided group holiday and all the work is done for you. All you have to do is enjoy the experience. And, secondly, see as much of the world as you can. You won’t regret it!

 

 

BOOKING WITH A TRAVEL AGENT

John Spollen is the President of the Irish Travel Agents Association, www.itaaa.ie

Why is it a good idea to book a holiday with a travel agent?

With information overload from online sources, the need for advice from travel agents is growing. Travellers are overwhelmed by the number of possibilities. They need someone who could filter the millions of opportunities so they can make the right choice. The bigger the spend, the more the risk, and the more complex the booking, particularly with flights, the more reason to use a travel agent. Your holiday is one of your biggest household spends. All ITAA travel agents are bonded and consumers’ travel plans are protected. If something does go wrong, your agent is at the other end of the phone to rearrange flights, accommodation bookings or whatever our customers need.

A lot of people say that booking with a travel agent is more expensive – is this true?

You can always get a bargain. That bargain could be online or with a travel agent (all of whom are online anyway). Travel agents provide a professional service and one which can save you time and money. Travel agents take the worry out of booking the holiday or trip.

Do you have any tips for people who are planning to book their holiday with a travel agent?

You should be clear on your dates, whether you have key dates, or if you can be flexible. That is a big thing in delivering the best package at the best value. And have an idea where you want to go, especially if it is a bucket-list holiday. Also be clear on whether you are looking for a quiet resort [or] a lively one. It is your money, so you should tell your travel agent what you are looking for.

What destinations will you be recommending to people for summer 2019?

Ireland, and Dublin in particular, has never had such a choice of direct destinations and there are also some great new destinations from Cork Airport, Shannon Airport, Farranfore Airport Kerry and also Ireland West Airport Knock.

What is your number one travel tip?

The earlier you book your flight, the better priced your holiday will be. With many travel agents you can of course pay a deposit and pay off your holiday per week or month, making it much easier to budget.

Catherine Devane