Beware the not-so-all-inclusive holiday, warns Which? as it reveals the best providers – and how with the worst, holidaymakers routinely fork out HUNDREDS for extra food and drink
- Which? asked holidaymakers about their experiences of all-inclusive holidays over the past two years
- Those polled rated their provider on seven categories including customer service and value for money
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Holidaymakers on popular all-inclusive breaks are routinely spending hundreds of pounds extra on food and drink as tour operators neglect to include the basics – including soft drinks and local alcoholic drinks – in the headline price, Which? has found.
The consumer champion surveyed nearly 2,000 holidaymakers about their experiences of all-inclusive holidays in the past two years, asking them to rate their provider on seven categories including customer service, accommodation, how well the description matched the reality, included benefits and value for money.
Topping the table was Which? Recommended Provider Jet2holidays, with Lastminute.com ranking bottom.
Which? discovered that ‘many all-inclusive-holidays are far from all-in’, with survey respondents paying out an extra £258 a week on average for extras both inside and outside the resort.
Which? said 13 per cent of people across the survey reported having to pay extra for local soft drinks on their ‘all-inclusive’ break as they were not included in their package, while 18 per cent reported having to pay extra for snacks.
The best and worst all-inclusive holiday providers have been ranked by Which? and it’s Recommended Provider Jet2holidays that’s top
Which? asked nearly 2,000 holidaymakers about their experiences of all-inclusive holidays over the past two years
Just 79 per cent of respondents reported having local alcoholic drinks included, and 43 per cent of respondents reported branded and premium alcohol were available at no added charge. Two-thirds of holidaymakers (67 per cent) found cocktails were included in their package, and half (51 per cent) could get a bottle of wine at no extra cost.
When the consumer champion looked at individual holiday companies, it found ‘even starker differences between what was and was not included’.
Those who booked via Expedia spent the most on extras on their all-inclusive, with an average reported spend of £165 per week in the hotel/resort and £228 outside of it, Which? revealed.
The consumer group said 44 per cent of Expedia customers reported that local alcoholic drinks were included, dropping to a quarter (25 per cent) for branded alcohol.
Holidaymakers who booked with Expedia ended up spending the most on extras on their all-inclusive, according to Which?
Which? found that ‘many all-inclusive holidays are not all-in’
Which? said even local soft drinks were missing, with 29 per cent reported to have paid extra for these.
According to Which?, customers rated the firm just two stars for the range and quality of extras that were included in the price, and were ‘far from impressed’ in other areas, with an overall customer score of 67 per cent placing it ‘firmly in the bottom half of the table’.
Lastminute.com ranked bottom owing to an overall customer score of 63 per cent. Which? found customers spent an average of £128 in the resort and a further £238 outside.
Just 39 per cent of customers reported that local alcoholic drinks were included and 32 per cent could access branded alcohol at no extra cost. Which? said this ‘may explain why its customers had some of the largest extra spends’.
It scored three stars for value for money, and Which? said it ‘managed no higher than two stars in any of the remaining categories, including customer service, accommodation and included benefits’.
Which? said loveholiday customers were close behind those booking with lastminute.com in terms of their average spending, splashing out a further £328 per week. Overall, the firm took 14th place in the ranking with a ‘mediocre’ customer score of 69 per cent.
The survey saw 24 per cent paying extra for snacks and local alcoholic drinks in the resort, and 38 per cent paying more for cocktails.
According to the consumer group, ‘some guests also encountered unexpected hurdles when it came to dining – one said that “meals were served cold and you had to reheat them in the microwave in the dining room”‘.
Meanwhile, On the Beach ‘fared better’ with a customer score of 73 per cent. Which? found customers ‘were more likely to report that basics like soft drinks and snacks were included’.
However, Which? said 29 per cent of those surveyed had a problem on their holiday with the firm scoring just two stars for the overall organisation of the holiday and one customer described the food as ‘hit and miss’.
Which? Recommended Provider Jet2holidays took top spot thanks to an ‘impressive customer score of 82 per cent’. It scored four stars for value for money, transportation, organisation, how well the description matched the reality and ‘crucially’ for customer service, Which? revealed.
Lastminute.com ranked last with an overall score of 63 per cent. The holiday provider scored two stars in all but one category
Which? said respondents’ reviews were ‘glowing’. One customer told the provider ‘the package included everything we needed and desired’.
Most travellers found everything they expected, 86 per cent reporting that local alcoholic drinks were included, and 78 per cent finding snacks available at no extra cost, Which? said.
In second place was ‘luxury operator’ Kuoni, with a customer score of 81 per cent. Which? said it scored four-star ratings in all but one category. The consumer group said: ‘Its three-star rating for value for money meant it missed out on a coveted Which? Recommended Provider badge.
‘Nonetheless, customers were generally impressed with their holiday experiences, with multiple respondents praising the excellent customer care.’
Taking the bronze medal was over-50s firm Saga, which scored four stars in every category – and was the only other firm to be awarded the Which? Recommended Provider badge.
Which? said: ‘One happy holidaymaker commented that the firm “always delivers” while another said the “attention to detail was excellent”.’
The consumer group found 85 per cent reported that local alcoholic drinks were included at no extra charge, while 72 per cent reported that tours were included in their trip and 81 per cent reported that entertainment was thrown in.
The runner-up holiday provider was Kuoni, which narrowly missed out on Which? Recommended Provider status
The over-50s holiday provider Saga came third. It scored four stars in every category and received an overall customer rating of 80 per cent
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: ‘As we approach the peak booking season, this detailed study by Which?, the UK’s consumer champion, should act as a true guide for customers and independent travel agents who want to know who they should trust when it comes to booking those all-important holidays.
‘Across all of our brands, we are named as a Which? Recommended Provider no fewer than seven times, which is a truly fantastic reflection of the hard work we put into delivering industry-leading customer service.
‘As well as our consistent success in every category, what makes this recognition special is the fact that it is based on the actual experiences of paying customers. No matter what type of holiday it is, this detailed and robust research by Which? shows that you are in the best hands when you make a booking with Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.’
Lastminute.com said: ‘Customer satisfaction is our highest priority, and we’ll take on board the findings provided by Which?, but they should be taken with a pinch of salt, given the fact it compares companies offering different types of products. It is really important to be aware that many of the questions in this survey are not relevant to the products and services our company provides.’
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘When budgets are tight, all-inclusive holidays surge in popularity, seemingly offering people a straightforward way to keep holiday costs under control with food, accommodation and drinks all wrapped into the price.
‘However, our latest research has found that some all-inclusive holidays are far from being “all in”, with some unfortunate guests finding that even basic items like soft drinks weren’t included.
‘If you’re thinking of going all-inclusive for your next getaway, it’s worth taking the time to research what’s on offer – check the terms and conditions carefully to see what’s included, and read reviews from other guests to make sure you won’t be left out of pocket.’
For more from Which? and to see the survey in full visit which.co.uk
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