fbpx

JOIN our family travel Facebook community run by travel experts – helping you to navigate Covid & holidaysJOIN NOW

Absolutely book it! But think twice before you Thomas Cook it 

By Lyndsey Thomas – 24th February 2021

Traffic to Thomas Cook’s website jumped a whopping 75% after Bozza’s announcement on Tuesday evening.

News like this makes my eyes roll so far into the back of my head I can see last year.

If you’re one of the 75% who jumped on to Thomas Cook’s website in the last 36 hours to browse holidays, please think twice before parting with the cash on a holiday via an OTA in the middle of a pandemic.

By all means, book a holiday – book a dozen! But do it with a well-established tour operator or a trusted travel agent.

The new Thomas Cook rose from the ashes in 2020 a year after the original Thomas Cook – the world’s oldest travel firm – crashed and burned in 2019 after 178 years in business. Over 20,000 staff were left jobless and thousands of Thomas Cook customers were left out of pocket and thousands more stranded in their holiday destinations sparking the UK’s biggest repatriation since World War II.

Thomas Cook

Profit of over people

 

Yes, travel firms have been causing problems way before we even knew what Covid was.  Covid just brought to light how many of them operate. And there will be travel firms that continue to put their chief exec’s bonuses over their clients well beyond Covid.

A Chinese firm re-launched Thomas Cook in China in July 2020. The firm snapped up Thomas Cook’s trademark (logo) websites and social media accounts. They are operating the business in the UK as an OTA – an online travel agent – and you should not be booking with an OTA right now in such uncertain times. You are not their priority, the bottom line is.

Thomas Cook is now the same breed/business model as the likes of Love Holidays and On The Beach. Faceless third-party websites that promise the best deals and have proven to deliver pretty appalling customer service in a situation that requires them to go beyond the booking.

The problem is they have no direct relationships with hotels, they book via online bed banks and because they work on volume, they often get better rates from the hotels – but that cheaper rate can lead to all sorts of preventable problems. And with marketing and contracting staff on furlough, there’s limited resources to keep huge websites listing tons of holiday components up to date meaning people have rocked up at hotels in 2020 that were closed.

Also, you’re bound by the T&Cs of the OTA, not the hotel, so if the hotel agrees to refund your booking for a reason out of your control but you’ve booked through an OTA the OTA says no because their terms and conditions say so, then you lose out.

I’m genuinely concerned for anyone who just books a holiday right now based on price without knowing what they are getting themselves into.

There is still an element of risk to booking a holiday, and that risk will continue while there is still uncertainty around the vaccine, vaccine passports, unpredictable new variants of Covid19 and how other countries are dealing with the pandemic.

 

Don’t let FOMO be your downfall

I want you to be armed with all the knowledge and all the options so that you can book a holiday with peace of mind.

Don’t rush you into parting with your pounds without knowing the ins and outs of who you are booking with and their terms and conditions.

You’re are about to be bombarded by TV ads, radio ads, ads popping up relentlessly on your social media feeds and emails piling into your inbox – travel companies are going to stalk the hell out of you with offers, and deals, and reasons why you should book with them NOW!

They need your money to survive, they need the cash flow, and they need your business NOW!

Do not be romanced and sucked in by a ‘must book now’ deal. Or a 30% off today only! Because a great deal is only a great deal if you get to return from a fabulous holiday without a hitch.

Don’t succumb to any of them without doing your homework. Read the small print!

I’ve worked in the global travel industry alongside airlines, UK tour operators and travel agents for the last 15 years – it’s a pretty brutal industry and until Covid hit, the online travel agents – Expedia, Lastminute.com, Love Holidays etc – monopolised the market because they win on price.

Price should not be your number one priority now – your holiday and your sanity should be.

My mission is to empower you to create your perfect-fit holidays without the hassle of hours spent researching and comparing.

My vision is an energetic, positive community of travel-loving women and travel experts where trust and transparency comes first. A place where you can get your questions answered by experts in lots of fields with the purpose linking back to your holidays. 

This isn’t solely about price though, it’s ultimately about making and sharing unforgettable memories.

When I launched the Girl About Travel Club (FREE to join right now) in September 2020 I did so because I wanted to create a safe, unbiased platform for women to use as their trusted go-to for holidays and travel.

An online space that wasn’t just all about travel offers and holiday deals.

Planning holidays, discussing holidays with each other, recommending holidays, booking holidays and sharing their holiday experiences – empowering each other and inspiring each other. So that’s what I set out to do with The Girl About Travel Club.

There’s a female community at its core – an online forum and news feed for all things travel without the constant barrage of adverts and people trying to sell you something.

The Travel Club is about giving women all the facts, heaps of expert-led advice, and all the options to book a holiday with recommendations on the best travel firms to book through depending on your wants and needs.

I wanted to create a one-stop-shop of resources, downloads, articles, guides, experts and events. Plus a recommended hotel directory of independent, hidden gem hotels that are hard to find, and bucket-list holiday itineraries that are exclusive to the Travel Club, but easily amended to create totally bespoke holidays for you. Itineraries that fit each woman’s wants, needs and dreams via a recommended pool of travel agents and tour operators that I totally trust to look after you and to book your holiday.

Especially if you’re looking for a holiday that’s not just straight out of a brochure and beyond the one-stop-fly-and-flop jolly.

A membership full of expert advice, not just from me, but from destination experts across the world who work for local travel agencies and can give real insight into a destination. Plus, live chats with real women who love where they live and can give members the info beyond the guide books.

It’s also really important to me that the Girl About Travel Club is inclusive to all women, regardless of their situation.

I want to give everyone who identifies as a woman a platform to dream, plan and book holidays with the help, support and recommendations of like-minded women.

Women with similar interests

Women with similar circumstances

Women with similar preferences

Women with special needs and requirements

Because every woman needs a tribe of women who relate to her situation, to her circumstances and to her needs and requirements.

To help her make well-informed decisions, especially when it comes to holidays – the biggest single investment many of us make year-on-year.

So we need like-minded women we can trust to reach out to. We want real, experienced women, not faceless website reviews.

We’ve just got started, but I have BIG plans to bring our Travel Club Members dozens of experts, events, and inspiration from across the world every week and connect women on a deeper level through travel.

I’m inviting all women to come and join the Girl About Travel Club FREE right now – to jump in and help to build a community of women, like me.

Women who LIVE to holiday.

Girl About Travel Club

COMING TO AMERICA!

There will always be a big focus on a destination or holiday type over in The Club, and our Members can help us decide where to focus our efforts on next.

April, May & June 2021 will be all about the USA. We’ll be getting right under the skin on the States so you can plan your holiday to America, whether it be a solo ranching trip, or a family ski trip, a family holiday with neuro-diversities to consider, or a road-trip with your girlfriend and everything in-between but always beyond the ordinary,

we’ll be unpicking it all in the Girl About Travel Club. So join FOR FREE now and tell us what’s on your bucket list in the USA so we can plan it in.

Ready to book a holiday? Here’s my expert advice to you…

 

DO Book a package

Don’t book flights and a hotel separately – make sure you book a package so you are protected by ATOL (make sure to check the Package Travel Regulations as to what is classed as a ‘package’). ATOL protection means if the company fails your money is safe. By a ‘package I mean you must book flights and a hotel in one single transaction. And make sure that you check the operator is covered by ATOL (they’ll display their ATOL number proudly on their website if they are).

 

DO Choose your holiday provider wisely

Some travel companies have had their customer’s interests and money at heart throughout the pandemic, others – not so much. There are some companies, such as Jet2/Jet2 Holidays who have been a shining example of how to do the right thing by refunding clients sharpish, while others have left frustrated customers chasing their money owed for months and months.

 

DO Look for flexible booking policies

Booking with holiday companies that offer flexible options to change plans is essential. The world might open back up, but when it did last year we also saw rising cases of Covid and the government shutting down travel corridors with just a couple of day’s notice. This could happen again.

You want to be booking with an operator that allows you to cancel or change your holiday right up to 24 hours before. Do your homework!

 

DO Use a credit card to book

If you like to book directly with either airlines or accommodation providers, please use a credit card to make the payment – simply because if either the hotel or airline were to fail, they’re not obliged to reimburse you.

But if the transaction is over £100, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act says the credit card company is equally liable with the supplier if something goes wrong; you’d be entitled to a refund from your credit card company (but that’s where the assistance would end – you won’t get any further support with rearranging travel plans or finding alternative flights, which is why you want to book with a reputable travel company. They will help with this).

 

DO Book direct with the hotel

If you are booking your hotel separately, look at booking directly with the hotel. Last year when we went to Greece, I found the hotels I wanted to stay in on Booking. com, and then contacted them directly.

I was able to book with no deposit needed – payment on arrival in some cases, and in cases where I had to give my credit card details to secure the booking, their cancellation policy allowed us to cancel right up to the day before arrival.

Also, booking directly – rather than through a third party such as AirBnB or Booking. com, means you have direct contact with the hotel and can form that all-important relationship.

Also by forming this relationship, if availability allows, you’re more likely to get a better room and a bigger discount for longer stays.

 

DO Book with a travel agent

Travel agents are just that – an agent that acts on your behalf and books your holiday for you via a tour operator. Because they are dealing with so many tour operators day in and day out, they will know who to use to ensure you get a great deal, but also are in safe hands. They know which tour operators to avoid, and which ones to book through to ensure the smoothest possible process if anything should go belly up.

Depending on the agent and who they are affiliated with, there might well be a trust account used to ensure that your money is safe in case the worst happens and a business goes under.

Most importantly, they are human, have your best interests at heart, and will ensure your holiday is all that you dreamed it would be, and not straight out of a brochure.

 

DO Buy your travel insurance as soon as you book

Travel insurance that covers you for coronavirus-related illness and disruption is available, although there are currently no completely comprehensive policies.

Make sure you take out insurance as soon as you book rather than when you travel, so you’re covered for illness or disruption before you travel.

And remember, you can always drop me an email if you need some travel advice. I’m here to support you and ensure your holidays result in nothing but amazing memories.

Lyndsey x

TRAVEL TRUTHS BY LYNDSEY THOMAS – GIRL ABOUT’S FOUNDER

No bias, no bull. I’m a travel industry expert and a very well-travelled mum. Using my 20 years of global travel industry experience gained from working on behalf of major international tourism brands and my behind-the-scenes access to major UK tour operators and airlines I commit to bringing you regular travel truths and my honest opinions.

You can read more of my Travel Truths here > https://girlabout.co.uk/category/travel-truths/

Lyndsey Thomas
Share it on your own social media channels or with friends

JOIN OUR WOMEN-ONLY TRAVEL CLUB

Become a Girl About Travel Club member and benefit from our travel concierge service, itineraries, rewards, offers, discounts, resources, retreats and more!

Featured Articles & Sponsored Posts