Although the traditional package holiday is in decline, the majority of holidays sold continue to be tour operator packages. The advantages include having most or all the elements of the holiday arranged for you, including transfers and representation in the destination or resort. Packages can be cheaper, though that is not always the case. Most, but not all, packages offered by tour operators also offer the consumer protection through the ATOL scheme, which prevents you from losing money or being stranded abroad should the travel firm cease trading.
Increasingly, tour operators and agencies are offering customers the ability to design their own packages. This practice is known as 'dynamic packaging' within the travel industry. Durations need not be limited to 7 or 14 days and the combinations and permutations of flights, accommodation, car hire and excursions are assembled by the customer according to his or her requirements.
Making arrangements independently can offer greater flexibility and be less expensive, sometimes significantly. However, it is likely to require more effort and you will have nobody to turn to if the hotel, for example, falls far short of your expectations. Getting it right with the accommodation is a key ingredient of a successful family holiday so be sure to do your homework via the internet or seek recommendations from friends.
Not all travel agencies were created equal. A great agency can make a big difference to your holiday by offering a wide choice of tour operator offerings. They should also be in a position to advise about travelling with children and help you tailor make a trip should that be your preference. We searched far and wide to find our family travel specialist partners.
Most agencies do not operate independently from the larger tour operators because they are owned by the operator. This inevitably means that you are less likely to receive impartial, independent guidance. And agencies do not always invest enough to train their staff to become true family travel experts.