Planning Summer Holiday? Remember These Pointers While Selecting Best Holiday Packages

Best Holiday Packages: What are the things to be considered while selecting the best holiday package for summer vacation? Should one buy the cheapest package? Or should some other things also be considered?
Planning Summer Holiday
Planning Summer Holiday

Summer Holiday Packages: Children's summer vacation is about to start in many states of the country. During this time, people go out on a large scale with their entire family. To fully enjoy the summer holidays, selection of the right holiday package is also important. Otherwise, there is a danger of spoiling all the fun of the vacation. The biggest challenge faced by most people is how to manage the best travel arrangements within the limits of their budget. We are going to tell you some very useful tips to complete this challenge. Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head - Holidays, SOTC Travel said, “When planning your summer holiday, it's all about finding the perfect balance between affordability and quality. While opting for a value package might seem tempting, it's important to remember that true value lies in experiences that enrich your vacation. By taking the time to carefully examine different holiday packages, one can ensure that you're not only staying within your budget but also enjoying all the amenities and experiences that make your vacation truly unforgettable.”

Rikant Pittie, Co-Founder of EaseMyTrip said, “With the summer season around the corner, the travel demand is expected to surge, and might lead to soaring airfares and a high cost of accommodations and excursions. This calls for thorough research and strategic planning for your trip. First things first, decide the kind of vacation you want and the activities you would like to include. Will it be a domestic location or a foreign destination? Whether you require a palatial villa, a 5-star hotel, or a homestay? Will it be a rejuvenating trip with personalised recreational and wellness experiences or a sightseeing holiday, wherein you wish to cover the maximum possible tourist attractions and standard activities? Once you have answers to these questions, you’ll be able to allocate a realistic budget. Check for deals, promotional offers, discount coupons, or co-branded credit card offers as small steps like these can go a long way in saving a significant amount of money. Check the perks included in the package and negotiate with the tour agents accordingly after comparing other options in the market.”

How right is the focus on the cheapest package?

Some people focus only on budget while selecting holiday packages. That is, we choose the package which appears to be the cheapest. But this strategy can sometimes prove wrong. Many times the rules related to cheap packages are such that in case of cancellation or change in dates, you may have to suffer a lot of financial loss. Customer support can also be weak in cheap packages. If you do not keep these things in mind while comparing the package price, your decision may prove to be wrong.

“It is a given that customers will end up looking for cheaper packages to save money wherever they can. However, we suggest that they shouldn’t be rigid on this aspect. We recommend keeping a margin and staying slightly flexible on the budget, as at times, this approach could lead to negative travel experiences. For instance, choosing budget stay options will make you miss important services or benefits. At times, the package seems cheap initially, but you might notice hidden fees or surcharges while making payments. In most cases, cheap packages do not offer the opportunity to change travel dates or itineraries or seek refunds under special circumstances,” Pittie said, adding that while focusing solely on cheap packages, customers might have to adjust on certain aspects of the trip, and this will certainly not be a profitable deal for them. “We suggest they save money by planning their holiday and making the bookings in advance. This way, they can avoid the last-minute rush and avail of exceptional early bird benefits,” he added.

Rajeev Kale - President & Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa - Thomas Cook (India) Limited said that while Indian consumers are displaying an increased spending appetite for holidays, they continue to be value-conscious and make every effort to ensure bang for their buck! “Not surprisingly, we have seen a high uptick of over 30% for our early-bird discounts and cruise-free offers on select tours that bring valuable savings.”

Check the list of 'exclusions'

Many times, in cheap packages, the list of 'exclusions' i.e. items not included in the package becomes very long, due to which you may have to pay separately for many things later. For example, regular expenses on food and drinks during travel, entry fees at important tourist spots, and fees for local site visits can be added separately. Apart from this, in many places, taxes or surcharges are also imposed by the local authorities, which are not mentioned in the package price. Many times fees for entertainment activities happening during the tour are also charged separately. Therefore, it is important to check whether the cheapness of a holiday package is due to a long list of 'exclusions' or poor quality of service.

Check for the provision of travel insurance in the holiday package

You should also check whether travel insurance is included in the holiday package or not. If you are going on an international holiday or are going on adventure tourism or a trip to very remote areas, where getting help in case of any problem can be very difficult and expensive, then you must have travel insurance. If such insurance is included in your holiday package, then it is a good thing, otherwise, it is wise to spend some money to buy it separately. Different types of insurance can also be associated with the holiday package on an optional basis, from which you can choose the right plan as per your needs. Especially if you are travelling in a large group, such plans are cheaper and can be availed.

Take advantage of discounts and offers on cards

You can improve your holiday package by taking advantage of discount sales from online travel operators and special offers on co-branded credit cards. Many operators occasionally offer cheap offers or promotional codes on certain days. Apart from this, exclusive discounts and booking deals are also available for customers or credit card members of certain banks. By using these methods you can get the same facilities for less money. Therefore, before purchasing the package, please check all the offers related to payment. If you are travelling in a group, do not forget to negotiate with the travel operator and ask for a group discount before making the booking. Generally, it is not very difficult to get such discounts for big groups. Even if you are booking directly instead of through a tour operator, many hotels are ready to offer special discounts for groups.

Should you go for the 'Holiday Now, Pay Later' scheme?

Online travel operators try to woo travellers by partnering with fintech lenders and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) to offer schemes like 'Holiday Now, Pay Later'. In such a scheme, usually, you have to pay some part of the total cost of the holiday package in advance, while you can pay the remaining amount after returning from the holiday. For this, the option to pay through EMI is also given. But we should know that fintech lenders charge hefty fees for this facility. In a way, using a scheme like 'Holiday Now, Pay Later' is like taking a holiday by taking an expensive personal loan.

EaseMyTrip’s Pittie also alerted and said, “Today, online travel operators also offer Holiday Now, Pay Later schemes in partnership with fintech lenders and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs). Here, travellers have the flexibility to pay 15-20% of the holiday cost upfront and the balance amount can be paid later once they return. However, they should be aware of the pros and cons of such deals to make a wise decision. There will be no additional charges if you pay the entire remaining amount in a lump sum. However, you will have to pay interest if they choose the option of monthly EMIs, which will turn out to be higher than the overall package cost.”

SOTC Travel‘s D’Souza opined that, while 'holiday now pay later' deals may offer convenience, it's essential to approach them with care. “Understanding all the terms and conditions, including any additional fees or interest rates, ensures that you can plan your trip confidently, knowing that your finances are secure,” D’Souza said.

But Thomas Cook (India) Limited’s Rajeev Kale said that some “Travel Now, Pay Later” models continue to see interest both from India’s young working professionals and families. “Customers are sharp in maximising on the zero interest benefit while keeping a careful check on the applicable terms,” Kale added.

Decide after considering several options

“As you plan your summer getaway, take the opportunity to explore all your options thoroughly. By doing so, you will not only find the perfect package for your needs but also embark on your holiday with peace of mind, knowing that every aspect has been carefully considered,” D’Souza said.

Before buying a holiday package, it is better to compare the offers available from different tour operators or online portals. After doing this, you can talk to the representative of that operator or portal face to face or over the phone about the package that suits you best and understand all the important things. This will help you a lot in making the right decision.

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