DIY holidays often more expensive than travel agents, survey reveals
MAKING your own holiday plans doesn't always work out cheaper than using a travel agent.
The vast majority of holidaymakers now go down the do-it-yourself route by booking their own accommodation and flights.
But it doesn't always add up to the cheapest deal, a survey conducted by the Irish Independent has found.
The explosion in internet bookings has seen the number of package holidays sold by travel agencies slump from more than a million in 2007 to less than 300,000 this year.
But our survey found the DIY route was not always the cheapest way to go with only five out of nine sample holidays to popular summer destinations cheaper to book on the internet.
In four out of nine cases, we found the package holiday option was cheaper -- in some cases substantially so. In fact, of the nine holidays surveyed, it worked out cheaper on average to select a package deal.
But the main conclusion is that it pays to check both options before booking your holiday.
For example, a package holiday to Majorca in July cost €1,752 with one travel agency, but the same holiday would set you back €500 more if you went the DIY route of booking the accommodation and flights yourself.
We compared what it would cost a person to book their own flights, airport transfers and hotel accommodation against what it would cost them for the same package as offered by major tour operators like Thomas Cook, Topflight and Budget Travel.
Charter flights also sometimes worked out cheaper than those with Ryanair and Aer Lingus, particularly as prices with the so-called low-cost airlines tend to soar in the summer months.
For example, a flight to Malaga in June would cost a family of three €779 on a Direct Holidays charter flight, whereas flying with Ryanair would cost them €941. Charter flight prices can work out cheaper because they usually include a 20kg checked baggage allowance whereas airlines charge up to €80 per person for this.
Obviously, families have the option of reducing costs on scheduled flights by bringing less luggage.
Flight prices, including those of Aer Lingus and charter companies, can be compared on skyscanner.ie, although Ryanair prices are not included.
The Irish Tour Operators Federation (ITOF) said while the market for package holidays was a fraction of what it used to be, it had "bottomed out", and demand this year was reasonably strong.
"The family summer holiday remains sacrosanct and hasn't suffered as much as the extra city breaks or ski trips," said ITOF chief executive Flan Clune. "People like to know they can't be left high and dry with a bonded company, and there's a rep at the resort to help out."
The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said that scheduled airlines had taken a huge chunk out of the charter market, but travel agents could still save people huge amounts of time -- and sometimes money -- by comparing the best options for them.
"The huge advantage of booking with a licensed agent is that you're covered if anything goes wrong, which isn't the case if you buy it all yourself over the internet," said ITAA president Pat Dawson.