South Africa’s favourite time of the year, filled with sun, fun and holiday spirit, is upon us. As we get ready to enjoy a few weeks filled with get-togethers, braais and travel plans, it’s important to keep an eye out for a few myths that may spoil your merriment. For example, is it better to book directly or through an online travel agent (OTA)? What about an inland vs a coastal holiday? Is it better to book in advance or try your luck and snap up a good deal at the last minute? The following helpful hints will help answer those questions for you.
It’s so easy to believe that OTAs like Booking.com give you the best deals. After all, they distract you with a lot of shiny comparisons and then lure you in with that enticing button that says you are getting a great deal. But are you?
Leigh Myles, Senior Business Development Manager at award-winning online booking technology platform Profitroom says, “While OTAs offer convenience, booking directly with the hotel often unlocks exclusive discounts and benefits that you won’t find anywhere else. What’s more, you avoid paying any hidden costs."
Hotel staff can give guests upgrades, and access to perks that OTAs would not be able to. Direct bookings also ensure a more personalised experience and allow for better communication with the hotel staff, making it easier to accommodate special requests and create the most memorable experience possible.
Most of us believe that holidays are the best when you're overlooking the ocean and sipping drinks with tiny umbrellas. While beachfront views undoubtedly offer a unique charm, inner-city stays have their own allure, especially during the festive season. Marc Wachsberger, CEO of The Capital Hotels, Apartments and Resorts suggests, "If you’re looking to save, it’s always a great idea to travel during off peak seasons. In December for instance, inland destinations offer superb value, priced lower due to lower demand, often less crowded and can give you more tranquillity than a spa day in paradise. SEVEN Villa Hotel and Spa, a hidden gem in Sandton, for instance, will transport you far away from the city and bathe your senses in calm while still keeping you in reach of your favourite stores."
Choosing an inland or city stay can offer a blend of cultural experiences, festive events, and the convenience of being close to shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
When it comes to travel it is often tempting to think that cash is king and depending on where you go, that may be right, but in South Africa, hard currency is starting to take a back seat. One of the reasons that digital payment gateways are becoming more popular in the South African travel landscape is because it is safe. Instead of large bundles of cash, encryption technologies reinforced by multi-layered security protocols allow users to safely transact while protecting their sensitive financial information. This ensures that travellers can confidently complete transactions without the nagging worry of data breaches, fraudulent activities or cash stuffed wallets.
While the challenge of finding a good last-minute booking can be exhilarating for those who love to live life on the edge, others prefer the peace of mind that comes with knowing their accommodation and other travel bookings are secured for the duration of their travel. Not knowing whether there will be any available hotel rooms, let alone ones that you would prefer to book (for example, one with a view, or one that’s located far away from noisy family units) can cause unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty. Booking in advance gives you a wider variety of choice when it comes to securing a hotel or other lodging, allowing you to pick the options that best suit your budget, personal preferences, and unique travel itinerary. Planning your trip and booking ahead also provides you with the opportunity to take advantage of early booking discounts and promotions, which can potentially save money, as well as better flight deals and a smoother overall travelling experience, giving you enough time to organise activities and make the most of your trip.
Ultimately, your holiday is about you. These tips can help you get the most out of your trip but making it memorable needs you to lean into whatever makes you the happiest.
Always remember fun will follow you wherever you go.