Sunday, March 20, 2011


Planning your summer holiday trip? Travel savvy or on to get some travel tips. From pet friendly to family friendly holidays, from cool discounts to exciting deals online...research can go a long way in realising your holiday dream.

Summer travellers set for experiential trips
Vishakha Talreja
Posted online: 2011-03-13 00:05:51+05:30

Whether it's self-drive holidays, spa and wellness getaways, customised luxury tours, castle/ villa stays, adventure, and wildlife trips or gastronomic tours, experiential travel is the flavour this summer.

Outlining the growing trend, COO (outbound division) of Kuoni India Kashmira Commissariat says, “Now, the individual traveller refrains from following a planned schedule and prefers freedom of exploring the destination at his own pace.”

It’s not just ‘how’, but ‘where’ that is as important. Even though, affordable Asian destinations like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia top the charts, travel experts point to the increasing popularity of Europe. As takers for regional tours are galore, Thomas Cook is offering Gujaratis, Maharashtrians and Tamilians special tours to Europe. Interestingly, a lot of travellers are opting for Canada and the US. Back home, it’s the cooler climes in the lap of hills that are luring travellers. Surprisingly, Goa is a favourite even in the scorching Indian summer.

Kuoni’s Holiday report highlights the fact that cost is generally an important consideration when choosing their get-away for most Indians, which is why they demand a detailed cost break-up and minutely inspect every detail of the itinerary. So, a closer look at the costs this year will reveal that while the launch of many new hotels has kept hotel room rates stable, the climbing crude oil prices have led to increase in airfares. “Amid the forecasts that crude oil price is likely to rise, we expect a further increase of around 15-20% in air fares,” says Neelu Singh, COO of travel portal Ezeego1.

With the slowdown well behind us and economy looking much better, the ‘April to June’ peak holiday months will be even busier this year. Travel agents hint at a 30% increase in bookings this season as compared to last season. Sabina Chopra, co-founder of, points out how travellers are booking their holidays much in advance this year. “We have not only started getting queries in advance, but there are even travellers who paid in January for their trips in May,” she says. Well, that’s a clear sign that it’s going to be full house this season. So, the sooner you book your holiday, the better it is.

Booking in advance gives you better bargaining power, too with both tour operators and hotels. “One key tip is to plan your travel at least three months in advance to get the best deals on airfare and hotels. Also, avoid last minute visa troubles in case you’re travelling to a foreign destination in the peak season,” says TripAdvisor India MD Sharat Dhall.

If an international holiday is on your mind, then this piece of information from Thomas Cook’s report will come handy. A higher discount can be negotiated for a trip to the US and Europe in comparison with other destinations where occupancies have bounced back post-recession.

Noshir Marfatia, general manager-sales and marketing-of the Park Group of Hotels, points out that a lot of rate options are being offered by hotels such as advance purchase, discount rate option (for booking ten days in advance), best buy rate option (for booking two to three days in advance) and special long-stay rates.

Since most travellers avail a week-long holiday during summers (as against a short weekend get-away trip), the long-stay rates can help in budgeting your trip right. Sample this: The Park Hotels offers value add-ons like free breakfast and internet, discounts on food and spa packages, complimentary drinks, and early check-in/late check-out facility on availing a minimum five-night package .

And if you are looking for an acommodation for your family, then checking-in at a service apartment is a good idea as they have flexible room policies, says TripAdvisor. Another option worth exploring is the bed and breakfast establishments as home-stays do not have strict room policies like many hotels. While most hotels do not allow your dog to accompany you, many home-stay accommodations give you that luxury.

“Home-stay gives one a convenience of home-like environment and at least 50% of homes that we have in our inventory allow pets. Home-stays are an ideal option for those who are travelling with infants or kids as they can access the kitchen for preparing baby food. Of course, home cooked food is another added advantage,” says Vimla Dorairaju, business head, Mahindra Homestays. Mahindra Homestays has around 300 homes with 800 rooms. The price for renting a bed and breakfast accommodation, which offers services equivalent to a three-star hotel, varies from R 1,500 to R 5,000.

If you belong to the old school, you might want to sit with your neighbourhood travel consultant to decide on the nitty-gritty of the holiday package, while many just want to access everything at a click of a button.

There’s a third category, too, for binge travellers. They are the usual targets of bargain sites. Recently, there has been a surge in the number of ‘group buying’ websites such as Deals and You, and Snap Deal, which offer restaurant vouchers, spa massages and other services on hefty discounts.

Seeing the traction such travel products garner, these websites, now have limited period of discount travel deals. In fact, looking at the demand for discount travel products, India’s first group buying travel website was recently launched. However, while booking on these websites, do read the fine-print as these are mostly limited validity deals.

And if you are directly booking a hotel, do check out if some activities are on offer. Hotels during this season have quite a bit on offer these days from photography workshops to culinary lessons. Picking up a skill while on a holiday is not a bad idea.

Also, many hotels have a kids play-area and a nanny facility. So make sure to check if it’s a family friendly hotel. But if you think you have missed the bus, or don’t have time to design or negotiate your holiday, picking up a readymade holiday package that is available off the shelf at retail outlets is a good idea.

A good holiday can be as good or as bad as its planning. Some effort can definitely help you to get that perfect plan, and indeed, that perfect holiday. Bon voyage!

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