Booking Holidays Online - Cheaper than Travel Agents?
by Keith Barrett
The way in which many of us book holidays has changed dramatically in recent years. Ten years ago many of us would have relied on our local travel agents to find us a good deal.
When we came to think about our next trip away, we'd simply wander down the high street and nip into a few travel agents shops, picking up a number of different holiday brochures to compare prices offered by different tour operators.
Comparing prices sometimes involved taking into account certain special offers that might be available, or any additional costs caused by the time of year (school holidays, for example) or number of people travelling.
When thinking about destinations, resorts or particular hotels, our opinions might largely be shaped by what friends and family had told us, what we'd read in magazines, or maybe what we'd seen in holiday-related television programmes.
The arrival of the internet and its increasing availability to many of us has undoubtedly changed the goalposts. We now have the ability to research our chosen destinations online - we even have access to the thoughts of previous visitors to the hotels that we may be planning to stay at.
We can compare prices relatively quickly and also have more options in terms of how we structure our holidays. We're no longer limited by the narrow boundaries of the package holiday market - we can now book our flights and accommodation independently, with far less hassle.
So everything has got better. Or has it?
The internet has brought us a lot of information but how much of that information is really reliable? When I read reviews of places that I've visited, I often find that other people's experiences are very different from my own.
It's clear that we all have different expectations of what is involved in having a good holiday.
It seems to me that, while holiday prices may well have come down, many of us are left looking to trawl through masses of information, much of which may be considerably less reliable than that once provided by the good old-fashioned travel agent.
Maybe we should take the "progress" provided by the internet with a small pinch of salt.