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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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How to save money on your summer holiday

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SUMMER HOLIDAY: Make sure you book your holiday extras well in advance of setting off

CASH-STRAPPED families should book and pay for as many parts of their holiday as they can before they leave home to make their money stretch further this summer, a travel industry executive says.

More than 32 million holiday journeys out of Britain are made each year – and around 16 million of them involve a drive to the airport.

Steve Lawrence, group chief executive of Holiday Extras, a Kent-based airport hotel and parking provider, says: “The short-haul holiday market in 2012 is fundamentally different to the pattern of previous years.

“This summer, there has been huge demand evident around the Jubilee, because people realised they can get away for 10 days by taking only three days off work, and there is huge demand around the Olympics period.

“Other than that, demand is often weak, and that is when people start cutting prices.”

With airport meet-and-greet services, airport lounges, travel insurance, foreign exchange services and car hire abroad also showing firm growth, Holiday Extras turns over bookings worth £180 million a year.

Steve adds: “The golden rule is always to book the extras when you buy the package: you invariably save money against prices you pay by just turning up on the day.

“This year, hoteliers and car park operators are using the budget airline approach: if demand falls, cut prices and vice versa.

“Hotels close to several regional airports have spare capacity – and there, you can stay overnight and park for broadly the same as you would pay in a busier summer for parking alone.”

Holiday Extras says prices have also fallen because fewer people have flown out on holiday since 2008.

The four-star Liverpool Airport Crowne Plaza offers an overnight stay and up to 15 days’ parking for £59; parkers alone can get an eight-day Price Buster deal for just £29.99, saving £48.01 off the price if you just turn up.

At Leeds Bradford, a room at the three-star Mercure Leeds Parkway with eight days’ parking starts at £58.

At East Midlands, a room at Radisson Blu and 15 days’ parking starts at £99, while East Midlands Airparks has a special rate of £39.99 for eight days’ parking alone.

At Gatwick, an overnight stay at Menzies Chequers hotel and eight days’ parking starts at £84, while the Mape Manor meet-and-greet service starts at £64.99 for eight days’ parking.

Steve says: “The business of looking after people going on holiday and coming back has grown steadily through the recession, because as people have less money to spend, they go away for shorter periods to keep control of the costs.”

Leading travel firms, including Saga and Titan Travel, have pioneered collection services from home to ease the stress which many travellers feel about long-haul journeys.

At EssentialTravel.co.uk, an online company specialising in holiday add-ons, spokesman Stuart Bensusan argues that this summer’s travel market is getting increasingly difficult to predict.

“There are some great deals out to Greece,” he says, “with operators keen to encourage travel and given the current Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice, there is absolutely no reason to avoid travel.”

But he points out that travellers always need to be sure that their travel insurance covers third-party insolvency, is ATOL protected and booked through a credit card.

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