Overwhelming Holiday Booking Process
Millions of Brits admit feeling ‘under pressure’ and even ‘stressed’ when planning holidays - due to the sheer volume of recommendations they are given by friends, family, TV and social media. Researchers, who carried out a detailed study, found a large percentage believe the deluge of information, tips and advice makes booking a break a daunting prospect. It also emerged around four in 10 said it can take away the enjoyment of searching for and find the perfect getaway. This huge amount of resources has resulted in one in five feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and many others ‘confused’ and ‘anxious’ about what they should and shouldn’t book, the poll of 2,000 holidaymakers found. A further 43 per cent said they have felt ‘worried’ about missing out on experiences during their holiday as they try to tick off everything on their lengthy to-do list.
The study also found fake reviews have affected how trustworthy advice is, with 60 per cent being more aware of them today than they were five years ago, resulting in four in five trusting reviews less. The most reliable sources were revealed as friends, according to 49 per cent, followed by family. Social media has had a huge impact on holiday choices, from location to activities, with one quarter admitting they have felt the need to visit somewhere because they’d seen it on a social platform. Still on bookings processes, the Competition and Markets Authority recently warned that companies cannot automatically keep a large deposit if a customer cancels owing to unforeseen circumstances. Such a contract may be unfair, even if written into terms and conditions, the CMA has warned. For example, somebody may cancel a booking owing to illness or a family bereavement. If the company has plenty of time to re-sell the holiday, or if it becomes available at a peak time, then the company should refund the payment or a hefty deposit.
Any amount it charges should reflect its costs. If the company includes a blanket ‘non-refundable deposit’ demand or cancellation fee in its terms and conditions then this could be an unfair contract, not legally binding, and unenforceable - even if the customer has signed it. The watchdog has no plans to launch an investigation into specific operators, but is working with trade bodies to raise awareness of the rules through its ‘small print, big difference’ campaign.’ It is not the first time the CMA has raised the issue of unfair contracts. In 2016, it gave a general warning to firms, and specifically wrote to wedding venue owners to remind them of their legal obligations.