If there’s one thing guaranteed to get parents of school-age children in a spin, it’s the subject of holiday prices in peak season.
Should they or should they not risk the wrath of the head teacher and whisk their kids away for cheaper sun, sea and sand in term time? I know from chatting to my sister, who’s got three children, that it’s a dilemma.
Families need a money-saving expert to help them through the holiday pricing minefield. So it is up to us who work in travel to shout louder about how we already help shave chunks off holiday costs.
If you think about it, there are tons of clever ways to save money in peak season, if people know where to look and how to book.
A few weeks ago, we held our first family forum. We talked to more than 1,200 families and almost half admitted they were prepared to take their children out of school in term time to get a cheaper deal.
More schools are now issuing fines. But at around £50 a time, the fines are a penalty worth paying for many families if it means getting a half-price holiday, even if it leaves the parents feeling guilty.
Some parents even lie to avoid paying the fine. And one of my friends was called into the head teacher’s office to explain herself; she said it was pretty scary!
All this is great fodder for the media and is usually stirred up by someone who points a finger at the travel industry for “ripping off hard-pressed families”.
The trouble is, when the story is raised, most holiday firms keep their head down, mutter about supply and demand, and wait until it blows over.
But there are times when we are far too passive. Family finances will remain tight, yet, according to our findings, 90% still see a family holiday as essential.
Talk up travel
This means we all have to talk up travel. Yes, holidays cost more in peak season. People may not like it, but generally they do understand it.
The one thing the parents we spoke to were crying out for is more independent information about affordable holidays in peak season.
As part of our family forum we asked parents for their best money-saving tip for peak season holidays. We were inundated with responses, from cashing in supermarket rewards to buying attraction tickets in advance and booking early to get free child places.
Agents up and down the country could potentially be the travel money saving experts for their region. It’s this sort of practical parent-to-parent advice combined with travel industry insight which will help agents win favour.
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