It’s easy to understand why a travel firm going down in peak season leads to raised eyebrows. Past failures and the current focus on financial protection go some way to explaining it.
In the case of Holidays4U, disquiet was fuelled by media reports linking the failure to last summer’s collapse of Goldtrail, which left thousands stranded.
Yet as our exclusive interview with Holidays4U director Meke Faks reveals, the Turkey specialist was merely a victim of an increasingly difficult market – one in which consumers are squeezed, competition is heightened and margins are wafer thin.
The national media should bear some blame for fuelling public expectation of cheap holiday deals. The view that travel should be cheap as chips is unsustainable.
I fear Holidays 4U will not be the last of its kind to find the going too tough. The big two’s size and their bedstock and presence across Europe insulates them from this pressure. It is companies at the budget end of the market that are in the line of fire.
Consumers won’t escape the consequences. The more customers expect a deal, the more there is pressure on operators to renegotiate hotel rates. Many overseas hoteliers are reducing their reliance on the UK, no longer under an obligation to offer “silly deals” when they can turn to other markets, such as Russia, where pricing is more robust.
If attitudes and models don’t change, many UK holidaymakers will find themselves prriced out of holidays they could once afford.
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