Following representations by the Irish Tour Operators Federation, the Aer Lingus website, which began offering “The complete holiday solution” in early August, has replaced the claim “25% cheaper than charter tour operators” with “Unbeatable Value – Holidays from €199”. Meanwhile, Paul Hackett of ClickandGo.com has told ITTN that Florida and US cities will be added to the website by 1st November 2011 – and that winter ski holidays will be considered for the 2012/2013 season.
In early August the Aer Lingus website began offering what it describes as “cheap holidays – holiday deals” under the banner of “The Complete Holiday Solution with Aer Lingus”. This comprises online booking of sun holidays, city breaks, escorted holidays and cruise holidays from ClickandGo.com and TheTravelDepartment.ie.
The ClickandGo.com section initially claimed as one reason to book: “25% cheaper than charter tour operators”. However, the Irish Tour Operators Federation responded by asking Aer Lingus to withdraw the ‘25% cheaper’ claim immediately – and on Thursday 25th August this reason to book was changed to: “Unbeatable Value – Holidays from €199”.
ITOF Chief Executive Flan Clune told Irish Travel Trade News: “This claim was misleading and untrue. We have yet to be advised by Aer Lingus that the change has been made but we are happy that it has been. The airline had no discussions with ITOF or its members before adding these holidays to its website.”
ITOF President Kevin Nolan added: “We are happy that the 25% cheaper claim has now been taken down from the website. While there may well be specific instances where like-for-like holidays are 25% cheaper on the Aer Lingus website it is simply untrue as an overall statement and I could give you any number of examples where charted tour operators are cheaper.
“For example, I have only just finished serving a customer who had a price of around €700 from the Aer Lingus website and we had the same holiday for €599. Again, if you look at Lanzarote and Faro there are holidays on the Aer Lingus website at €500+ that we are selling for €399.”
Tony Bond of Travelsavers Ireland said: “If a client had called to one of our members using our OnlineXpress engine they would be offered far better value. For example, two adults going to the Alay Hotel in Benalmadena for one week on 25th September would cost €1,165.10 for self-catering excluding bags with ClickandGo, but our agent could offer exactly the same holiday, including breakfast and bags, for €1,110 – but we could also offer seat-only on a charter flight instead at a price of €875.
“An experienced agent with the right tools can beat the Internet nearly all of the time. The traveling public needs to be educated to trust their travel agent to get the best value out there.”
Florida and US Cities
Paul Hackett of ClickandGo told Irish Travel Trade News: “The Travel Department and ourselves made the initial approach to Aer Lingus with a detailed business plan for the new website with just Aer Lingus content. It has been a tough year but we are making progress and we are very excited about this new development.
“We have already taken on two extra staff and more will follow as we add elements to the Aer Lingus website. We will be adding Florida and US cities by 1st November this year and we will also be looking at winter ski holidays – not for this coming season but for 2012/2013 – but the question will be will these fit within our current model.
“ClickandGo invested in a new website last year and now we have made a huge investment in a second website using new technology. The Facebook PHP platform provides even quicker displays and provides a range of dates – and that’s what the consumer is looking for.
“It is too early to say what percentage of our bookings will come through the Aer Lingus website. Our existing websites continue and both ClickandGo and The Travel Department will continue to promote themselves, such as through the Independent, Herald and Irish Times.”