What You Never Knew You Didn’t Know About The Travel Industry!
Published: 13th October by Travel Editor
With almost everything we buy in life there’s a middleman who is making money between the supplier and those of us making the purchase. As more and more creators of goods, and suppliers of services, look to provide a direct-to-consumer model, there are a few things that those of us that take holidays and short breaks should understand about how the travel industry works.
Essentially there are four ways that British holidaymakers buy their travel – and ALL OF THEM cost more than buying at the rate the trade buys at. In fact it’s the fourth of these that is key for travel-lovers to understand when working out how to get the best deal.
Via Travel Agents
High street and online travel agents sell services, from rooms to flights, and typically receive 10 to 30% commission from the providers. That means we’re paying 10 to 30% more than the travel trade pays for the same hotel room on the same date.
Via Tour Operators
Tour operators sell package holidays and typically obtain wholesale rates from hotels and other suppliers, then package them together and mark them up (by up to 40%) to cover costs and profit.
Travel Deal Websites & Travel Clubs
Sites that claim to offer amazing deals typically achieve their prices by offering the least popular dates, destinations and room-types. They often have very limited availability and require us to travel at times that aren’t convenient. Travel Clubs usually offer a small, cliquey range of hotels they work with, meaning their members don’t get access to the full range of accommodation choices available.
By Booking Direct
Many of us imagine that booking direct with a hotel will give us the very best price, but that’s not so. The reality is that the industry is interested in protecting prices, and ensuring price parity across all booking channels, so when a hotel agrees to sell its rooms on a booking platform, they also have to agree not to sell their rooms for cheaper on their own website (or any public-facing website). Otherwise we’d all just find the best hotel on a booking portal, and then go to the hotel’s own site to book. Sometimes hotels run their own discounts and loyalty schemes, but these typically only save 5 – 10% off their published prices.
Why Ultimate Travel Club is Different
Members of Ultimate Travel Club pay a small subscription, and in return get access to the prices that the trade pay. The fact that it’s a membership club means they can offer prices that the industry would not allow a “public facing” website to display.
Importantly, UTC members still get access to UK-based travel experts on the end of the phone, if they need to book something more complicated than they can book on the private members’ website, or if they just need a bit of advice. And all bookings are protected by ABTA / ATOL – just as they would be if booked through a travel agent or tour operator.
It’s not just hotels; members get access to flights, cruises, car hire, airport parking and more – all at trade prices – both in the UK and further afield. And UTC guarantees that they’ll find the best price for hotels, holidays and more. They are currently offering a 14 day free trial period, so anyone booking a holiday has nothing to lose by joining up and checking the UTC prices before booking anywhere else.
Hopefully this article has given you some insight into how the travel industry works in the UK, and made sure that you don’t bump into anyone else who’s paid less than you round the pool next year!