Planning your holiday early could ensure you have a first-class holiday that’s in line with your budget.
The end of the year comes as a blessing and a curse; it’s the time when we need to recharge and gather our thoughts for the next professional chapter.
There are some shortcuts that ensure you can take a vacation and still survive January woes.
Book in advance
It doesn’t seem to make sense when you are in work-mode, with wall-to-wall meetings and expenses adding up, but booking in advance can earn you all sorts of benefits. With many special offers, you can save on airfares, hotels and accommodation costs and even on experiences. 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 will need to be a monthly-budget planner, or else have a portion of your salary you can allocate to this.
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. Leave it for the last minute, and you could end up somewhere that isn’t ideal, having to take costlier accommodation and more expensive travel options.
If it’s too late for you to do that this year, bear in mind that some visitors, particularly international ones, already start the planning and booking process for the next year while on holiday. You can use your break to explore options that will make a great itinerary for next year’s holiday.
If you are a business traveller, you have 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 rewards programmes that can provide discounted accommodation, including free nights, added benefits such as free meals or easier access to leisure experiences.
The bigger the company, the better the loyalty programmes will be, since a national or global network means that a huge customer base allows for more freedom in offering holidaymakers more. For example, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programme has over 100 million members; their loyalty results in more benefits on offer to you.
Loyalty cards can give you access to more affordable healthcare, discounted groceries, gift specials and more; used shrewdly, they can provide you more, for less.
Travel like a local
Information is your friend. According to research done by Cape Town Tourism, over 40% of visitors research their holidays via online and social media platforms. Social media – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, in particular, offer a wealth of pre-knowledge about your destination, including what are the hotspots to head to (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 – art, shows, music and more.
Local community sites and locals themselves can offer tonnes of advice via social media – they know what they enjoy, so they are best-placed to advise you.
Continuing in this immersive, intimate vein, when you get to the spot you’re holidaying, 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.
Since you may have gleaned much of your research information from social media, why not add to it? Upload your experiences, review the businesses you go to – this communal approach gives others a better idea of what to expect. It saves you the risks of having to try something out that’s an unknown, possibly not ideal, when instead you can head somewhere that’s received consistent five-star ratings.
The beauty of taking a break is that you can choose to do it your way: active lifestyle-type breaks that give you access to mountain bike trails or kite-surfing adventures, or you can take a culinary road trip and explore a destination with your taste buds – it simply doesn’t matter what you choose to do, but, with a few practical approaches, you can make sure that you have a first-class holiday that’s in line with your budget.
Author: Danny Bryer is area director, Sales, Revenue and Marketing Management at Protea Hotels by Marriott.