The all-inclusive holiday has been all the rage for British holidaymakers ever since we can remember, however, as The Post Office research suggests, going all inclusive may not actually be the solution for saving money while on holiday but as we delve a little deeper, it becomes clear that the problem doesn't lie with all-inclusive holidays but with our changing expectations.
Following a recent survey carried out by Populus for Post Office Travel Money (July-August 2012), over 14 million British holidaymakers on an all-inclusive holiday have been paying for extras, which they claim should be included in the package. With over a third of holidays taken by Britons being of the all-inclusive kind, its draws are evident. Often cheap but not good value, The Post Office survey uncovers those extras that leave us out of pocket when we get home, despite having opted for an all-inclusive deal.
According to the research conducted, some of the extras paid for were: spa treatments, international brands of alcoholic and soft drinks, mini-bar products, internet access, some water sports, bottle of wine/sparkling wine, snorkelling equipment, room service charges, cocktails, à la carte dining, bottle water, a choice of restaurants, local brands of alcoholic and soft drinks and all meals.
As hoteliers will tell you, people will always find something to complain about, but that doesn't mean there is a problem. The issue exposed by the survey is that our holiday expectations are not being met when it comes to several aspects, so either we are being misled by travel agents and tour operators when we book our holidays, or we are just too demanding. "… as the numbers rise, so do expectations and in almost every cost category that we looked at the all inclusive offer made by hotels fell short of what holidaymakers expected" said Andrew Brown, Post Office Head of Travel Money. "This may explain why although it is possible not to spend any extra on an all-inclusive holiday, we found that less than a quarter of holidaymakers did so".
The survey indicates that 88% of the respondents expected all meals to be paid for but that one in six paid extra. In truth, all meals are included in all-inclusive deals - but what isn't included is a choice of where to have these meals. If tourists decide to eat outside the mainstream buffet restaurant in an à la carte restaurant for example, then the cost will be added to the bill. So in reality what is the issue here? Are we being cheated by the all inclusive holiday concept or are we are in the habit of generally overspending on holiday?
Treating yourself while on holiday isn't a new concept, so to analise the value of an all-inclusive holiday, perhaps we should we be looking into our spending habits on holiday rather than using all-inclusive holidays as a scapegoat for overspending. As Brown said, "This may explain why although it is possible not to spend any extra on an all-inclusive holiday, we found that less than a quarter of holidaymakers did so".
The Post Office survey seems to be pointing the finger at people having to shell out more than expected when on an all inclusive holiday but after looking into various tour operators' all-inclusive offers, nowhere does it indicate that extras like spa treatments, mini-bar contents, room service charges, all water sports and à la carte dining are included. However, what tour operators rarely specify is the non-inclusion of certain drinks and bottled water in countries where tap water isn't safe for tourists to drink. In the latter case, tourists have a right to feel cheated out of their restricted budget, so it is worth asking the booking agent to specifiy what is included.
Also, what might be more economical is not to go for an all-inclusive break because at least then you really get what you pay for, and if it's quality you are after, you just aren't going to get it at an all inclusive resort, an issue we will be exploring next week.
Although The Post Office survey doesn't completely discredit all-inclusive holidays as a way of saving money, it does show that holidaymakers are being misled in small ways that make a big difference when it comes to settling the bill at check-out. However, the survey does show that the all-inclusive holiday is a budget option and will rarely be able to fulfill expectations for quality.
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