Why is Travel in the School Holidays More Expensive?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Why are some holidays discounted so much and why is it more expensive to travel in the school holidays? How can the exact same holiday vary so much in price between different departure dates? Read on for the lowdown on travel pricing.

Why are some holidays discounted so much and why is it more expensive to travel in the school holidays? How can the exact same holiday vary so much in price between different departure dates? Read on for the lowdown on travel pricing.

Travel Industry Pricing is Fluid

Unlike most products and services which charge fixed prices, Travel industry pricing is fluid because it is directly linked to supply and demand. If a hotel has a lot of empty rooms or if a flight has a lot of empty seats (supply is high and demand is low), prices will be reduced in order to try and create more demand and sell this empty capacity. The hotel still has its running costs and the airline still has its running costs so often these price reductions are an attempt to cover part of these costs and minimise losses. On the other hand, if a hotel only has a few rooms left or if a flight doesn't have many seats left (demand is high and supply is low), they charge their full price for their services and do not need to discount.

Tour Operators Commit to the Hotels & Airlines

Many tour operators buy in hotel rooms and airline capacity in advance and put them together to form package holidays. The tour operator makes a commitment to pay the airline or hotelier regardless of whether they sell the flight seats or hotel rooms. During school term time, it is much more difficult for tour operators to sell family orientated beach holidays so often prices are discounted to try and generate demand. Prices regularly fall lower and lower as the departure date gets nearer, often selling them at a loss, for less than their cost commitment to the airline and hotelier. For those who are tied to school holiday dates, there is usually plenty of opportunities to pick up a real bargain at the last minute. On the other hand, package holidays departing during the school holidays tend to sell easily so as the departure date nears, fewer and fewer seats are available and therefore prices tend to keep rising. Most flights to family beach holiday destinations will sell out so the tour operators do not need to reduce them; indeed the profits from peak season sales balance out the losses from shoulder season sales.

Government Fines for Taking Children out of School

The recent introduction of government fines for parents who take their children out of school, serves to lower demand even further during term time and potentially increases demand even higher in the school holidays. This adds more fuel to cheaper prices in term time and higher prices in the school holidays.

ABTA proposes Staggering School Holiday Dates

All is not lost though, ABTA are proposing that the UK follows Germany's example and stagger the dates of schools holidays by region in order to even out demand.

Beach Holidays Are Affected the Most

It is also worth remembering that as pricing is influenced so much by supply and demand, that prices in the school holidays will be highest for the destinations and hotels that are most popular with families. In recent years this tends to be all inclusive properties in beach destinations. There are, however a number of other types of holidays which offer amazing experiences for children. The price of a holiday to the Italian lakes or the Austrian or French mountains for example is often much lower than a beach holiday in July and August. The Italian Lakes offer a beautiful setting to relax, eat Italian food, experience Italian culture, take walks, bike rides and many hotels have swimming pools. The Austrian and French mountains offer a great holiday for an active family. In Morzine, France for example, there is a big outdoor public swimming pool with sun terrace, horse riding, biking, hiking, adventure playground, ice skating, a skate park and walking trails. Morzine also offers paragliding, downhill mountain biking or white water rafting nearby for the more adventurous. City breaks can also offer a good experience for children and these aren't always priced so high in the school holidays e.g. Barcelona offers a beach and a city culture side by side. In recent years trips to the United Arab Emirates have also been reasonably priced in July and August compared to the rest of the year. This is partly because there is a huge capacity of flights and hotels in the area (supply is high) and also because some people are reluctant to visit during Ramadan. Whilst there are some restrictions during Ramadan, some people prefer it as it is a bit quieter. It is possible to eat and drink soft drinks in five star hotels before sunset. Alcohol won't be available anywhere until sunset but this isn't a problem for many who are happy to spend their days around the pool.

How to Get the Best Beach Deals For the School Holidays

With regards to beach holiday in the school holidays, it is recommend booking as far in advance as possible to take advantage of the most choice and the best pricing. Often by booking in advance you can benefit from low deposits and there are usually some deals available with free child places for advance bookings.