Credit crunch sailing holidays

Sailing boat

These days, holiday operators are fighting to get your attention with the lowest price possible, and sailing holidays are no exception. Many companies offer discounts of up to 10% at the London Boat Show, but with the credit crunch showing no sign of waiver, we can expect even bigger reductions on sailing holidays.

The euro vs the pound

The fall in value of the pound means that discounts in the Mediterranean may be harder to find. Most charter companies rent their boats from local fleet owners in euros, so with the pound falling, their boat bill is on the increase. If companies give discounts to customers paying in pounds they could end up making a loss.

For 2009, low-price flights to Thailand and Malaysia are big news. This, combined with cost of living in these destinations, sailing holiday companies are expecting a massive demand for their Far East holidays.

But how do you know who’s who in the sailing holiday market, which places they go to and what type of holidays they offer?

Talk to the holiday operators

Behind all the flash advertising and websites, most boating holiday companies are friendly sailing enthusiasts who have been in the business for years. They have a great deal of understanding of what customers want and many of them offer discounts to regular customers.

Flexibility is key

The ‘shoulder seasons’ at the beginning and end of the year are cheaper than high season. If you’re able to go last minute, you’ll see that the closer to departure you book, the better deal you’ll get. Also, buying one-way tickets can offer significant savings.

Save on flights

Charter companies offer cheap flights by block booking at the start of the holiday season. As you get near departure date, unsold tickets become a problem and deals can be made with the company. Many companies are happy for you to book your own flight.

Too good to be true

If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. If you book your sailing holiday based on price alone, you could end up with an older boat and a less efficient service. If you’re willing to compromise then go for it! But many customers go back to their favourite company, willing to decline the bargain in favour of the peace of mind of the holiday they really want.

Research goes a long way

The bigger, more established companies have managed to build their business based on a loyal customer base, gradually expanding as new customers become regulars. If a company isn’t familiar to you then research it. Call them and find out everything you can about how they operate. Ask if they are members of the Marine Leisure Association, the trade body for charter companies that requires them to make certain standards.

Make sure you’re covered

When buying a flight from a charter company, always check that it’s ATOL (Air Travel Organiser Licence) bonded, meaning your holiday is protected. When XL collapsed last year, Setsail’s clients were brought home free of charge as part of Setsail’s ATOL commitment.

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