Holidays start the moment you lock the front door behind you and head to the airport. With a travel specialist like the happier holidays team at Hoot, it can make all the difference between a stress-free break and a travel story you don’t want to tell.
Sometimes, not everything goes according to plan, which can be the case if you have booked everything online yourself. It’s tempting to leap at the lowest airfares and some specials really can seem too good to be true.
The team at Hoot ensures a happier holiday starts before you leave the ground by including luggage, meals, drinks and movies on the plane, as well as flying without the unnecessary stops or isolated secondary airports that can sometimes be behind those disruptive ads.
The Hoot team makes sure every detail is covered – are the names correct on the booking? Do they perfectly match what’s on the passports? Did you remember to book seats together? If you haven’t you might find that one parent and a child are in row 10 while the rest of the family is back in row 22.
“We do our best to seat families together and we understand this is an important aspect of family travel plans,’’ Hoot Holidays team member Christine Rokotuinasau says.
“We make the effort at the time of booking to acknowledge any special seating requests and we will do our best to pre-allocate seats to ensure families are seated together.
“We understand the importance of having all travellers on one reservation, or linking them if they are separated, so should the need arise to change any seat allocations closer to travel, the airline knows they are all travelling together. Allocating seats as early as possible is the key, this is something that other agencies or clients booking directly can forget.
“In this industry, unfortunately, there can always be little hiccups with things like seating, due to unforeseen circumstances such as an airline needing to change the size or configuration of an aircraft. I believe communication on this and explaining how it all works is the biggest thing we can do to assist our customers.”
Even worse than seating issues, is finding out there’s a problem with flight schedules.
“The biggest thing I see all the time is scheduling. This can come in all different forms,’’ Christine says.
“Clients who book their own flights and are travelling to an island need to know that their arrival and departure times meet scheduled boat services. Often I find myself pointing this out to people who've obtained quotes online where the times don’t match the transfers and the itinerary just doesn’t work.
“Also clients who book their own flights are responsible for any schedule changes. Have they checked that the new time will meet scheduled pickups? What if it doesn’t meet them, who is responsible for changing this and looking at alternatives? Has a
schedule change shortened or lengthened the trip and now you need extra accommodation or amendments?
“We are well versed in how to deal with these types of changes as they happen often.”
The other thing as travellers we don’t think about is natural disasters: floods, earthquakes, volcanoes. They do happen without warning and throw travel plans into chaos.
“If clients book their own flights and they are disrupted by a natural disaster we are unable to do anything,” Christine says.
“If a client has booked with us, we receive all the regular updates and communication from each airline as to what the re-booking procedure is for their affected flight.
“We are given the relevant waivers to change fees and information to make any amendments necessary. We have quick access to the flight reservation system to see upcoming flights available if it’s an urgent departure.
“For someone who has booked their own flights, they are at the mercy of the airline who can be flat chat during these times or the online agency they've booked through - specifically if its an online agency, sometimes they don’t have the support systems to effectively assist clients in fixing these urgent issues.”
Not only does booking with Hoot Holidays get you a dedicated support team, but Hoot also has access to better airfares and major airports.
“The Hoot Holidays product team does a great job in negotiating special deals with resorts and airlines,’’ Christine says.
“Nine times out of 10 we can offer a better package price if someone books their flights and land arrangements together. We have the capability to offer package price discounts when booked together and can couple our great hotel deals with the best airline prices on offer.
“We have access to wholesale airfare prices for most of our preferred airlines which aren’t available to be booked by the general public so we can offer them a better price than what's online.”