BOOK AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
The general advice is to book in advance because you can benefit from many special offers on airfares, hotels and other types of accommodation.
However, there’s always a chance that other travellers will need to cancel their plans and you could still get a cheap deal. If you’re travelling abroad, take advantage of websites that are designed to cater for those who leave travel to chance, such as holidayfactory.co.za, which is currently running an Easter family special for trips to Mauritius.
For example, it’s offering a R52 400 family rate (two adults and two kids) at the four-star Domaine de Alizee in Mauritius with half board. Its specials are valid for departures on March 31, and April 1 and 2 (seven nights’ accommodation), and include flights to Mauritius.
Consider sites such as lastminute.com for international bookings.
TIP: If you’ve missed out and just can’t land a bargain, use this time to plan ahead for next year’s Easter holidays.
Besides the obvious benefit of direct savings, you’ll be able to secure a holiday the way you want it – from the place you want to stay to when you want to travel. If you leave it for the last minute, you could end up somewhere that isn’t ideal, and you may have to pay for costlier accommodation and more expensive travel options.
Danny Bryer, area director for sales, revenue and marketing management for Protea Hotels by Marriott, says: “Many travel and hospitality companies create packages with this in mind. The adjustment to your thinking means that your planning stages will take place way in advance, so you’ll need to be a monthly budget planner, or else have a portion of your salary that you can allocate to this.”
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FLASH SALES AND BE FLEXIBLE
If airlines have empty seats or hotels have rooms that still haven’t been booked, they’re likely to try to flog them at a discount. If you’re flexible and open to not having a particular destination in mind, you could benefit.
TIP: Be flexible about when you leave. This Easter, holiday makers are likely to leave on Friday and come back on Easter Monday. If you can, take an extended holiday and leave earlier in the week to capitalise on cheaper prices.
Nadia Marth of online travel platform TravelStart.co.za, says: “Be on the lookout for last-minute flash sales from airlines and travel agencies. Also, keep in mind that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to book flights, while Sunday is the cheapest day to fly.”
CONSIDER TAKING A BREAK JUST AFTER EASTER
Easter is a time when everyone will be on leave and ready to go on holiday, and companies in the tourism industry are well aware of this and increase their prices accordingly.
TIP: Marth says: “While the Easter weekend is the ideal time to escape with the family, you can save up to 40% on domestic flights if you postpone your trip by just a few days.”
BECOME A LOYAL TRAVELLER
This may not be something you can take advantage of this year if you don’t belong to a loyalty scheme, but you should consider joining one if you can afford it and if you’re prepared to take advantage of the benefits regularly.
Bryer says: “If you’re a business traveller, you’ve probably seen the insides of more airplanes and hotel suites than you care to recall, but why not use this to your benefit when it comes to leisure travel? You can use air miles to offset costs, and hospitality companies understand the benefits of rewarding your loyalty with programmes that can provide discounted accommodation, including free nights, added benefits such as free meals or easier access to leisure experiences.”
TIP: Consider reward schemes from larger, established players.
“The bigger the company, the better the loyalty programmes will be because a national or global network means that a huge customer base allows for more freedom in offering holiday-makers more. For example, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programmes have millions of customers, and their loyalty results in more benefits on offer to you,” says Bryer.
They’re also likely to offer you deals on other things.
“Loyalty cards can give you access to more affordable healthcare, discounted groceries, gift specials and more. Used shrewdly, they can provide you with more for less.”
Travel like a local and be sociable
Information is your friend. According to research done by Cape Town Tourism, more than 40% of visitors research their holidays online. Social media in particular offers a wealth of knowledge about your destination, including places to visit or avoid, special offers such as two-for-one meals, new and exciting experiences and places to see, and what’s great on the cultural calendar.
Use group buying discount platforms to take advantage of specials if you’re going abroad.
TIP: Don’t be shy to ask for advice.
Bryer says: “Local community sites and locals themselves can offer tons of advice via social media – they know what they enjoy, so they’re well placed to advise you.
“When you get to the spot where you will enjoy your holiday, speak to locals – the ones who know their neighbourhoods best often have a sense of pride about where they live that translates into an authentic sharing of how people live.
“This isn’t so much a commercial benefit, but you could find yourself making friends, possibly even getting invited around for a braai. That’s something you may not experience in other countries,” adds Bryer.* SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.