More and more people are booking their holidays, cruises and flight on-line and with the growth of the internet the trend is set to continue. There is little doubt that you can get very good deals by using the web, particularly if you book directly with the service provider. We get many e-mails complaining that a tour operator or travel agent has charged X pounds for a room, when the hotel rate displayed is considerably lower. Take that a step further and you will find that the tour operator has not even paid the displayed rate, but one considerably lower achieved by a quantity discount. That rate is available to the traveller if they book direct and negotiate.
Consider this! What is your package holiday to the Greek Islands? It is simply a return flight to Athens, coupled with a transfer from the airport to the ferry port at Piraeus, the ferry journey to the island and two weeks in the hotel. For booking these elements on your behalf, the tour operator/travel agent takes a good profit from each element and passes the extra cost on to you. None of the elements in this holiday are difficult to deal with. If it is your first overseas holiday, you may feel daunted at the prospect of tackling it alone, but if you are an experienced traveller, why would you not save money and book it yourself. In the illustration above, you would ned a couple of Easyjet flights to Athens and the underground or a taxi from Athens Airport to Piraeus. The ferries are easily identified and tickets can be obtained at the port. English speakers have no problem. All of this can be booked on-line using a credit card which offers additional protection. The same applies to a fly-drive to California or a two month trip to Portugal.
However, be exceptionally careful when booking on line. Particularly with the faceless giants like e-Bookers, Expedia and Last Minute. If you make an error, they will not be interested in sorting it out. Their personnel are directed at the sales effort and not customer service. The days of Broadband have reduced wait time on web sites, but still be aware that you should Never press the submit button twice. The software used by on-line booking agencies is extremely poor and is not capable of detecting double bookings. The operators wouldn't have it any other way! You will be charged twice if you submit twice. Over the recent months we have had several cases of travellers fighting to get back their overpayment for duplicate bookings: most have failed! If you are still using a 56k modem, the response after pressing submit may be several minutes. Go and make a cup of tea, do not be tempted to 'try again'.
If you are completing an on-line form, check the details carefully before submitting. Make certain you read the terms and conditions, particularly about ticket cancellations, transfers etc. As soon as you have made the booking, if you do not already have travel insurance, obtain it immediately. Always use a credit card if that is possible as it offers additional protection.
Before booking with an on-line travel agent or tour operator, Google their name and read the articles. There are many shysters on the net. If you book with the major providers like OPODO, E-Bookers, Expedia and Last Minute, you will be booking with an established provider, but they are very poor to deal with. if something goes wrong, you will have serious problems in trying to put matters right. Prima-facie, when your money is in their bank you become a problem rather than an asset.