You’ve looked at all the package holidays on tour operator’s websites, found a holiday you really like but thought to yourself “I bet I can do it myself and save myself some pennies.”
So, you’ve gone ahead booked your flight and got a great deal, booked the fishing lodge direct or through an agent and saved a few pounds. Now you’re looking forward to the best fishing holiday you’ve ever had. You go out to your local tackle shop tell the guys in there where you’re going and ask them to supply you with all the gear you need, a few hours later off you go home with bags of lovely new shiny tackle and an empty wallet, but what the hell, you can afford it you just saved a load of money by booking your own holiday didn’t you?
But what happens if something goes wrong? I expect you’ll try and claim refunds or make a claim on your holiday insurance because that will cover you want it? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case as you have booked individual elements and you can be left with ruined holiday plans or even worse stranded abroad.
We all think that these things will never happen to us but unfortunately, they do. For example who could have predicted the Icelandic ash clouds, oil spills in the Gulf or the unseasonal weather in Russia? That’s without things like industrial action affecting airlines and air traffic control or civil unrest breaking out in countries like Egypt and Ukraine.
So how can any of these things outside your control affect your holiday plans? If we look at the most recent events in Russia for example, which over the winter received almost double the amount of snow and coldest spring since 1998. Consequently, this meant that many river sections were still completely frozen for the start of the salmon season and holidays had to be cancelled as it was impossible to fish. For those who booked a package holiday through a tour operator, although a great disappointment and inconvenience they did not lose out financially. However, it’s not the case for all customers, especially those who booked a DIY Holiday.
So what and why is there a difference? First, we have to look at what is a ‘DIY holiday’ and what is a ‘packaged holiday’ booked through a tour operator. Let me explain the difference.
A DIY Holiday is where you book and pay each component separately, for example, your flight, accommodation, fishing, car hire etc. are all individual elements. This means that you have a separate contract with each different company that you have booked and paid with.
A Package Holiday, by definition, as covered by the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992
The Regulations define a ‘package’ as follows:
- The holiday must cover a period of at least 24 hours or involve overnight accommodation
- The holiday must consist of a combination of at least two of the following components: – transport (for example, flights, trains, coaches and ferries – accommodation – other tourist services that form a significant proportion of the package (for example, Fishing)
- The holiday must be sold at an inclusive price
When something does go wrong? Let’s go back to the Russia example with the fishing having to be cancelled due to unseasonal weather. The fishing provider offers you either a full refund or the chance to move your holiday to an alternative date. But what about the other elements like flights you booked, airport hotels, airport parking, what if you cannot change your dates due to work or family commitments?
For a Package Holiday. Those customers who have booked and paid for a packaged holiday that’s covered under the package tours regulations 1992 act. Which means that it is the tour operator’s total responsibility to offer you either:
- The same holiday on an alternative date or,
- An alternative holiday or a FULL refund for ALL ELEMENTS booked and paid for under your booking.
The tour operator is responsible for sorting out all the problems, absorbing any financial losses associated with change or cancelling any of the holiday elements. The hardest part you have to do is to decide what option you wish to take as the tour operator has to do all the work.
For a DIY Holiday. Unless you have bought & paid for everything as either fully refundable or flexible bookings you could stand to lose them all. After all it’s not the airlines or hotel providers issue if a week before you are due to depart you no longer have any fishing to do at the other end. It will also be your responsibility to:
- Apply for refunds, if applicable,
- Find & rebook suitable flights
- Find & rebook suitable hotels
- Find & rebook suitable transfers
- Rebook car parks
- Pay for new elements while awaiting refunds
Fortunately, these unforeseen circumstances are rare, but they will always happen to those who think it will never happen to them.
As you can see from all of the above, the DIY holiday that you thought you could save a fortune on, could, in fact, be totally the opposite. Is it worth the risk? The simple answer is NO; after all, it costs NO more than by booking with a bonded Tour Operator than booking everything directly, SO WHY TAKE THE RISK?