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It's Holiday Hunting Season...

January is the busiest month for booking holidays - and you'll see offers galore on the internet sites - but the best deals are always found by booking direct - so why not follow our tips to book direct safely and bag yourself a bargain?

Why Book Direct?

Whether booking with a traditional cottage agency or an online travel agency (OTA) such as air bnb, Trip Advisor etc, the booking fees and commission can add as much as 20% to the price of your holiday.

So you've found a property on an agency site, but want to avoid all the fees - so how do you go about finding the owner? Most companies prevent any website or contact details being exchanged until they've got your money, but most owners will include as much information in their listing as possible to help you find it online. Look for clues in the listing - such as a property, business or location name that you can then use in an internet search and don't forget to check the photos for a logo or email address.

Is the property genuine?

If the property has been listed on a cottage agency (such as, then that property will have been inspected by the agents. The OTA's however do no such checking, but a genuine property will usually be listed on multiple sites, so check that the details match on all of them.

Look for a Google business page - the business address will have been verified by google so they should be a genuine site - you will often find reviews and links to the owners website here.

Check social media - genuine businesses will usually have an active presence on at least one social media site e.g Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Look for recent reviews and up to date activity and pictures.

Does the website look genuine - Poor grammar and spelling mistakes may suggest that the website may not be genuine. Look for contact details that you can check e.g. a landline telephone number - ring and speak to the owner personally. A fake website is likely to have contact by mobile or email only.

Check for reviews - on the website / Trip Advisor/ OTA listing - if lots of the reviews are worded very similarly, then they might be fake. Genuine reviews will often mention particular features of the property or recommend places to visit nearby

Can I pay securely?

Ideally pay by credit card where possible, but do remember the majority of small holiday cottage businesses still don't accept card payments due to the high costs. If you've done your homework and satisfied yourself that the property is genuine, then it is perfectly safe to pay by bank transfer. Most genuine owners only ask for a deposit to secure the booking, with the balance paid only 6-8 weeks prior to holiday date (most will also accept cheques). If it is a scam, then they will insist on full payment up front by bank transfer only. Most scammers will also have contacted you to suggest you pay direct (via a fake or hacked OTA listing) and often payment details may not match the country or even owner name.

If you're still not certain - then book through the agency or listing site and pay by credit card for your own peace of mind - but don't forget to ask to book direct if you decide to return another year!


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