Holiday companies offering incentives to book despite lockdown

Hayley Dixon
People enjoy the hot weather at Bournemouth beach, Dorset, as Britain is set for a sunny Easter  - PA

Holiday companies are offering incentives for people to book breaks away from Monday which would be in breach of coronavirus lockdown rules.

Despite no definite end to strict social distancing measures, tourism companies have seen a surge in interest in people wanting to get away and many are offering incentives including small deposits for early bookings.

Hotels.com, one of the biggest accommodation booking sites in the UK, was even offering its registered users extra incentives on bookings for holidays beginning on Monday. 

Currently, overnight stays in the UK are banned and there is no concrete date for holiday accommodation to reopen.  

However, the Prime Minister has stated that he hopes “to reopen at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places provided they’re safe and enforce social distancing” in phase three of the lockdown exit plan, which would be July 4 at the earliest.

Hotels and campsites across the country have since started making plans and advertising for the point that they start welcoming guests again whilst abiding by social distancing measures.

Many are offering promotions to entice customers back, including low deposits.

In an advert to users, Hotels.com wrote: “The UK is packed with history, character and undeniable beauty and now is the perfect time to dream about your next staycation.”

Post-coronavirus air travel:

The company offered a coupon for extra loyalty stamps for stays booked up until May 31 and beginning from June 1.

Booking.com, which is allowing current bookings despite Government guidance, also contacted customers inviting them to “plan your weekend” and explore destinations close to home.

“We don’t want your travel dreams to slip away. Just welcome them back, and make your trip flexible,” the company says.

However, any booking that has been made since April “may not be entitled to a refund” if the customer did not book on a flexible rate with free cancellation, which is normally more expensive.

Both booking sites warn travellers that they should check Government advice on travelling before booking.

Hotels.com notes that "due to COVID-19 travel restrictions" properties "can only accept bookings for essential travel or stays".

As families desperately try and salvage their summer holiday, one camping booking website, Cool Camping, said that they had a 500pc increase in traffic after the Prime Minister said that hospitality companies might open in July.

The site is not taking bookings until July 4 and under the “Coronavirus Booking Guarantee” offers 20pc deposits, late payment of full balance and flexible changes.

However, it warns: “Due to low deposit and late balance payment, no refunds are offered”.

After facing criticism for allowing people to book properties, AirBnB has blocked all automatic bookings until the beginning of July.

Though 2020 is largely being mooted as the year of the staycation and international travel looking even more uncertain, airlines have also announced that they will start resuming flights.

Easyjet has announced that it will be resuming a number of mainly domestic routes on June 15 whilst Ryanair is resuming 40 per cent of its flight on July 1.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary told the Mail on Sunday that they will also be offering discounts to try and entice customers to book.

He said: 'We will dump prices to get people moving again. Once we start flying in July, we will sell at whatever price we can to fill as many of those seats as we can.'

Despite the current ban on overnight stays a number of accommodation providers have been found to be flouting the rules.

Cornwall Council has revealed that between the end of March and 26 May it received 2,319 complaints of which 78pc related to holiday accommodation.

Three businesses were issued with formal closure notices and 60 businesses only stopped trading after a written warning.