ABTA counters Holiday Which? price differential claims
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has clarified that Holiday Which’s recent investigation into tour operators’ brochure pricing shows a misunderstanding of the workings of the travel industry. (1/11/2007)
ABTA stated: “The Magazine claims that brochures do not include all unavoidable prices in its headline price and then cites four examples of additional charges, three of which, are not obligatory. The examples highlighted, charging for extra legroom, pre-booking of airline seats and under occupancy charges, are optional and should not be included in a headline brochure price.”
It added: “The Magazine also claims that it is cheaper to book online than to book using a brochure. Brochures are printed months in advance and will advertise a price that might be charged for a holiday even though customers may subsequently pay less, subject to the forces of supply and demand. Websites are updated on a regular basis and will therefore reflect changes in price as a matter of course.”
David Marshall, ABTA head of policy and communications said, “The majority of package holiday deals are booked through ABTA members. Any potential confusion on pricing will be clarified before a client makes a booking. ABTA has worked and will continue to work with its members to ensure that their prices are as accurate and transparent as possible.”
Recently, an investigation by Holiday Which? uncovered huge varieties in the price of an identical package holiday offered by four of the UK’s leading travel companies. The four major players are Thomson, Airtours, First Choice and Thomas Cook.
“When brochures were compared there was almost Ł250 difference between the least and most expensive brochure price, based on the cost of a two-week holiday to Mallorca in late July for an adult couple with one child. But by booking online the overall price of the holiday was cheaper than the brochure in every case. Holiday Which? identified a saving of Ł468 by booking with Thomas Cook online, instead of using its JMC brochure,” it was repoted. “Thomas Cook’s brochure cost was the most expensive (Ł2,165), followed by First Choice (Ł2,157). The MyTravel brand Airtours was the best value for money both in its brochure (Ł1,917) and online (Ł1,617.40) and was the only operator to offer free in-flight meals.”
The second cheapest quote for the holiday was offered by Skytours on its website (Ł1,817). The low-cost Thomson company also had the cheapest flight supplement for the chosen departure airport on the specific date. Holiday Which? said there were “costly extras” on the advertised brochure price. These ranged from flight supplements and paying for extra legroom or sitting together on a flight, to under-occupancy supplements.