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A Response to THAT Facebook Rant: We Admit it, Prices are Higher in School Holidays!

The price of holidays at Holiday Hypermarket goes up during school holidays. We admit it; those of you with kids pay a premium for your holidays compared to those carefree souls without a brood of their own, or the lucky folk whose offspring have flown the nest.

A story on the BBC website today describes a Facebook rant on school holiday costs, which was posted there by Paul Cookson, a disgruntled man who took to the social network to complain that he is “sick to death” of being “ripped off” by holiday companies putting up the prices outside of school term time.

As a holiday company, Holiday Hypermarket is likely to be in the cross-hairs of Mr Cookson’s ‘School Holiday Rant’, so we felt obliged to openly respond to Mr Cookson and all the other parents in the UK who feel understandably annoyed at the apparent slight on their decision to reproduce.

At Holiday Hypermarket we work hard to find the best deals for our customers, whatever time of year they choose to go on holiday. Hopefully our customers don’t see us as “corporate money grabbing monsters”, and thankfully our 97% approval rating for customer service seems to suggest they don’t.

In light of recent high-profile and controversial court cases, with fines issued to parents who take their children out of school, Mr Cookson’s Facebook rant comes at a time when the price of holidays outside of term time is clearly a hot topic.

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]There are many different components of a package holiday that contribute to the overall cost[/quote]

To try to shed some light on the issue, price changes during schools holidays can largely be explained by the simple effects of supply and demand, and what is sometimes referred to as “fluid pricing”.

Broadly speaking, this means that the price of a holiday can change – both increase and decrease – according to the demand for that particular deal. Tour operators change the price in order to control the pace at which they fill the capacity of their flights and hotels. If it looks as though a flight may be left with empty seats, they will drop the price to encourage more people to book.

Leaving seats empty on an aeroplane and rooms empty at a hotel is a big ‘no-no’ for any travel company that hopes to survive. Ensuring as many seats are filled as possible is simply good business.

“What about the price hike in school holidays!” we hear you cry. Firstly, we should probably mention one thing that’s perhaps not easily explained or understood, namely the sheer complexity of the travel industry. Unlike buying another luxury item like a designer handbag for example, there are many different components of a package holiday that contribute to the overall cost, many of which are influenced and controlled by several different parties.

It is the job of the tour operator to pull together all the different components of a holiday, from the airport taxes, aviation fuel costs and in-flight meals, to the resort taxis, accommodation and meals, then put them all into one (hopefully affordable) package.

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]This would spell the end of bargains like the £134 week in Spain[/quote]

No one ever complains about the price of incredibly cheap deals offered during school term time, despite the fact they might be so cheap that holiday companies are practically giving them away.

Essentially, when demand is very low holiday companies have to drop prices to encourage people to travel. This is when you find deals such as a week at a 4* hotel in Majorca for £134pp.

When demand is high like it is during school holidays, everyone involved in the whole chain, from the hoteliers to coach companies providing resort transfers, needs to make enough money to survive as a business.

The fact is that holidays are luxury items, but they’re also seasonal items. In order to keep their businesses afloat, everyone involved in the travel industry, including the big tour operators, needs to tighten their belts in the leaner months and make hay when the sun shines in the summer.

The alternative is for the whole industry to agree a flat pricing structure, where the costs in high-demand periods like school holidays are the same as those in off-peak periods. This would spell the end of bargains like the £134 week in Spain, whether you have children or not. It would also mean those who might have booked an off-peak bargain now have no reason to do so, and might as well go in the summer when the weather is hotter – in other words, the peak period. When everyone else wants to go!

Clearly this is not a realistic option, so perhaps a more sensible alternative is for schools to stagger their holiday periods to create much less of peak in demand. This practice is common in Germany, and has support from The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) as a solution for the UK.

Whatever the ‘solution’ (if there is one) for the wider holiday industry, for our part Holiday Hypermarket will always strive to help customers find the very best deals at whatever time of year they choose to travel, and will continue to uphold our ‘Best Online Price Guarantee’.

[message_box title=”Tell Us What You Think” color=”blue”]Comment below to give us your opinion on both school holiday costs and fines for parents who take their children out of school[/message_box]