Travellers are being warned to exercise caution when booking a holiday tomorrow – one of the busiest days of the year for bookings – by booking an ATOL-protected holiday and looking out for hidden costs.
Dubbed ‘Sunshine Saturday’, tomorrow (6 January) is predicted to see a surge in bookings as it is one of the most popular dates to plan a holiday.
Many travel companies are also currently offering summer getaway offers and the UK Civil Aviation Authority, which runs the ATOL financial protection scheme, is urging consumers to check for ATOL and read the small print on bargain holiday deals.
Exclusive research conducted by ATOL for ‘Sunshine Saturday’ shows that our appetite to travel remains as strong as ever, with almost three in five of us (56 per cent) planning to go overseas this summer, and just over half (51 per cent) planning to go abroad more than once in 2024.
Around four in ten of us also said they would book a package holiday for their next big holiday.
The research also looked into our holiday booking habits, with almost one in ten of us (8 per cent) planning to research and book our next big holiday on the same day, while 20 per cent said they would take a more cautious approach by spending more than a month researching flights, destination and accommodation before finally booking.
Around two in five (18 per cent) said they would take more than a week to plan their holiday with just over one in ten (11 per cent) stating it will take them more than two weeks.
2023 saw a growth in bookings, driving holiday reservations back to pre-pandemic levels. Last year, ATOL-protected bookings made up around £27.7 billion in sales.
Ahead of ‘Sunshine Saturday’, ATOL has also issued a list of seven top tips for booking a holiday to ensure consumers won’t lose money if something goes wrong, as well as four tips for checking for hidden costs from an unfamiliar tour operator.
ATOL is currently running a campaign throughout January and February reminding people of the importance of checking for ATOL protection before they book their next trip abroad.
Consumers can check the ATOL website before booking and use its ‘check for ATOL’ tool to see if their holiday provider holds an ATOL licence.
Tim Johnson, Director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said “Tomorrow, typically known as ‘Sunshine Saturday’ is traditionally the busiest day for people booking their holidays, with many travellers taking advantage of bargain deals. We’ve seen bookings grow significantly back to pre-pandemic levels, and that’s why it’s important to make smart decisions to avoid missing out on key financial protection, so by booking an ATOL-protected holiday, consumers know they can then relax, knowing they won’t be left out of pocket should their travel firm collapse. Our top tips will also help many travellers stay savvy and financially protected on their next package holiday.”
ATOL’s top tips to protect your 2024 holiday bookings:
Consider booking a package trip
Rather than organising flights and accommodation separately, that offers consumer protection and convenience. Consumers can easily check if their holiday provider is ATOL protected by using the Check for ATOL tool.
Do your research and look out for holiday fraud
Research your travel company and planned trip before you book, particularly if it is a company you haven’t travelled with before, and shop around with other providers to check it really is a good deal.
Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from co.uk to .org.
Don’t reply to unsolicited emails, texts, social media or calls with holiday offers. Links and attachments in emails may lead to malicious websites or download viruses.
Use a credit card for holiday bookings if possible
A credit card may provide additional protection for your trip, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
Book travel insurance
It can provide extra protection if the holiday doesn’t work out quite as intended. It can protect against a range of mishaps relating from cancellations, missed transport and medical emergencies through to items lost or stolen when travelling. The type of cover will vary so always carefully check the insurance terms and conditions for full details of cover.
Keep essential documents safe
Save and organise booking confirmations, receipts, copies of passports and insurance documents for easy access during your trip.
Look out for hidden costs and charges
For example, if you want to amend the booking before you travel or if you need to pay for extra baggage.
Stay updated on the latest travel requirements
This includes passport validity, visas, and entry restrictions using the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website. Make sure you have the necessary documents and meet the health and safety requirements of your destination.
The article Consumers urged to check for financial protection as holiday bookings set to rise first appeared in TravelDailyNews International.