Book Privately, Direct Through The Park or a "Newspaper Deal?" - THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Still looking for your next break away and endlessly trawling through holiday websites, brochures, social media ads but still have no idea where you're going to end up, or who you're going to book with?

Some are recommending to book direct, some are telling you to book privately and some are advising that you use a newspaper-holiday-offer.  

So which IS right for you?

ETK have put together this guide to show what's what when you book your next Holiday.


UK or Abroad?




For some this will be linked to cost, to others it's a matter of personal preference. Whichever you decide be sure to do a little research into the area you are looking at before anything else. List your holiday preferences; beach, pool, entertainment, facilities, meal-plans, accessibility, local attractions, family-friendly or adult-only and ensure that the area you are considering has the requirements you want for your well-earned holiday.


How secure is your booking?



BOOK DIRECT: Obviously there are numerous tour operators or Holiday Parks to book direct with and in general all are very secure. Do be aware that for both UK and overseas breaks, some companies act purely as "agents" for the actual holiday companies so the company you are booking through may not necessarily be the company you are holidaying with. As an example; Hoseasons act as agents for several major UK Holiday Parks and even barge holidays but they themselves own none In light of very recent events it's also recommended that if you do chose to travel overseas, ensure that both the company you may be booking through and with are ATOL protected.  The Atol scheme ensures that Holiday-Makers can return home and get their money back if a company goes into administration.

Take a read of our recent Lowcostholidays blog.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Lots of Holiday-Makers forget that it is also possible to rent privately overseas as well as within the UK. Some however feel it is too risky to book through a private owner. Any genuine owner will be more than happy to provide some sort of "proof of ownership" to a potential guest. Take a read of our blog post on scammers for guidelines and look out for our "ETK Verified Owner's Badges" when you are searching for your break away.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: See "booking direct" above!






BOOK DIRECT: If you have chosen an overseas break usually the flights can be added to your booking. Some companies will offer a full package and others will offer flights, transfers and luggage allowance costs separately. Do check you have included all your requirements. Watching others getting onto their coach transfers and realising you will have to pay a small fortune to a local taxi driver to reach your hotel is not a good start to your holiday. Obviously with UK holidays travel to and from your chosen location is down to you to organise. Apart from organised coach trips.

BOOK PRIVATELY: If you have chosen an overseas property many of the owners will happily help and advise with regard to flights and airport transfers so do think to ask. Do remember the cost will not be included in the owner's quote for the accommodation so be sure to work that into your budget when booking. Again if you have chosen a UK break the travel to and from your chosen location is down to you.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER:  Whether an overseas or UK-based holiday you cannot include transportation in the booking. However lots of them are now offering reduced rates on ferry crossings, including the Isle of Wight so that is worth checking as you book.




BOOK DIRECT: Usually booking direct through the holiday company will be the most expensive option open.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Private rentals will always work out cheaper than booking direct but don't expect heavily discounted deals to be offered. The owner still has a mountain of annual costs to cover for their Holiday Home.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: The cost can vary depending on the booking and is usually advertised as "£9.50" or £15" holidays. Do be aware there is a minimum occupancy cost and usually several additional fees to pay to complete the reservation. Sometimes it can work out more expensive than booking direct if the holiday company is running an offer or promotion.





BOOKING DIRECT: Payment terms vary hugely across the board with different tour operators and holiday companies. Some will ask for an initial deposit and state a final payment due date. Some will ask for payment in full at point of booking. Just check the terms and conditions before you commit.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Most owners will offer a payment scheme or instalments. There will always still be a payment due date which the balance will need to be cleared by.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: As the offers are only run at very specific times throughout the year payment in full is usually required 2 weeks after booking. It is possible to add extra options nearer to your arrival date if your chosen accommodation can accommodate your requirements. These will also need to be paid in full at the time and instalments are not accepted.


 Damage Bond:




BOOKING DIRECT: A damage bond is very rarely charged.

BOOK PRIVATELY: It is common-place for a damage bond to be charged in addition to the holiday cost. This is fully refundable within a specified time limit after departure and once the Holiday Home has been checked. Ensure you check the Terms and Conditions of the booking so you aware of what situations may cause a retention of the bond. 

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: A damage bond is never charged.





BOOKING DIRECT: Usually the accommodation is not allocated until day of arrival so there is no choice nor any guarantee at all as to WHERE it will be on your chosen resort. Even if you have requested a "pool or sea view".  For UK holiday parks you may be staying at the furthest possible pitch from the facilities or you may be right next door to them which may not be suitable to your needs.

BOOK PRIVATELY: An Owner can obviously advise EXACTLY where their Holiday Home is located before you arrive.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: See "Booking Direct" above!






BOOKING DIRECT: ALL holiday companies, without exception, will use stock or brochure photos to sell their holidays. Most of them will have been taken by professional photographers and then enhanced to give the very best impression they can of that particular resort. It will be very rare that you actually stay anywhere that 100% resembles the photos that are presented to you.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Most owners take their own photos, some do employ a professional. However you can be assured that the photos you see when booking are of the actual Holiday Home you can expect on arrival.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: See "booking direct" above!




BOOKING DIRECT: Tour operators or holiday parks will have a range of accommodation for you choose between.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Your choice of Holiday Home will be limited to whatever the Owner owns.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: Your choice of accommodation will be limited to what has been made available by the holiday companies to the newspaper scheme running at that time.





BOOKING DIRECT: Tour operators and holiday parks will have a fair amount of availability simply as they have more holiday properties available.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Availability will be limited to the number of Holiday Homes the Owner has plus the number of bookings already taken.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: Availability can be very limited as usually the dates issued to the newspaper schemes are dates the holiday companies struggle to sell direct. Peak dates, school or bank holidays are rare - although a few will be added as an incentive to book.


Accommodation "Grades:"  



BOOKING DIRECT: Tour operators and holiday parks will be able to offer a range of accommodation grades subject to availability for your required dates.

BOOK PRIVATELY: An owner can obviously only offer you whatever they happen to own!

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: See "booking direct" above!


"Free" Upgrades:




BOOKING DIRECT:  A tour operator or a holiday park will only ever offer a free upgrade if they happen to have a better grade of accommodation available on your arrival date. The reason they do this is to give you the best experience of the resort as possible, in the hopes you return. Don't ever expect a free upgrade, as it really is a case of pot luck. 

BOOK PRIVATELY: Again the owner can only ever offer you what they happen to own.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: See "booking direct" above





BOOKING DIRECT: Usually the only personal contact you will have before arrival is when you actually make your reservation and then everything else is dealt with via email or post.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Owners usually have more of a personal approach to rentals and are happy for contact during any part of the booking process prior to your arrival.

USE A NEWSPAPER DEAL: See booking direct as above Sometimes contact can become confusing with a newspaper deal as guests are confused as to whether they should be dealing with the actual resort or the newspaper booking contact lines.


Check-in & Check-out:




BOOKING DIRECT: Obviously if you're checking in overseas, your arrival and departure times are dependant on your flight times and staff will be on hand to assist regardless of whatever hour that may be. For UK holiday parks the usual check-in time is around 4pm unless you have paid to check-in earlier and departure times are in general 10am.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Most owners will try to give you a little longer if possible so check-in is usually earlier.  Departure is usually around 10am. Sometimes a little later if possible.

USE A NEWSPAPER DEAL: See "booking direct" above.


Entertainment & Facility Passes:



BOOKING DIRECT: Applicable to UK holidays only passes are included in the quoted price.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Some Owners include passes in the quoted price, some don't so always check before you book.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: Always an additional payable option at point of booking and can usually be added on at a later stage before arrival. 





BOOKING DIRECT: All linen will be included in any overseas break. Some UK holiday parks provide linen as standard, others don't so check before you book.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Some Owners provide linen, some charge a small fee and others don't provide it at all so check before you book

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: Usually available as an additional payable option, some offers will include linen as standard so check before you book!





BOOKING DIRECT: All utilities (electricity, gas, water) are included in your quoted price.

BOOK PRIVATELY: All utilities are usually included in the quoted price. A few Owners do have properties with coin-fed meters so check before you book.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: Usually a service charge is applied to the booking which covers utility costs during your stay. 





BOOKING DIRECT: Some overseas and UK holidays will offer meal-plans at varying cost.

BOOK PRIVATELY:  Meals are never included.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER:  Some breaks will be available with meal-plans as an additional payable option.





BOOKING DIRECT: All holiday companies will have cancellation clauses in place within the Terms and Conditions of the booking. The amount you lose should you cancel will depend on company policy and is stated on the booking documents. So check through them carefully.  

BOOK PRIVATELY: Most owners follow the holiday company's policies with regards to cancellation and these should be stated in the Terms and Conditions of the booking. A lot of Holiday-Makers do presume that a monitory loss through a private booking that's cancelled is unfair when in actual fact a cancellation causes an Owner far more additional work than it does to a holiday company. The amount you lose should you cancel will depend on the Owner's policies and should be stated on the booking documents. SAo check through them carefully.  

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: Usually once booked you will lose all funds paid if you cancel.  


Making Changes To Your Booking:



BOOKING DIRECT: Usually it's possible to amend your booking but there may be a fee for making alterations. Changes to dates will be subject to availability and may incur a change to the price quoted.

BOOK PRIVATELY: Most Owners will amend a booking free of charge. Some will apply a small admin fee. Changes to dates will be subject to availability and may incur a change to the price quoted.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: See "booking direct" above. It's not usually possible to change the dates of a newspaper offer booking.


Re-Selling Your Break:



BOOKING DIRECT: Most will state non-transferable on the booking documents, so to re-sell your break to someone else is not permitted.

BOOK PRIVATELY: An Owner will not permit your break to be re-sold, which is effectively sub-letting their Holiday Home. This should be stated in the Terms and Conditions of the reservation.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: Most newspaper bookings are permitted to be re-sold, but the resort MUST be informed of the new details for company, not personal insurance purposes...





BOOKING DIRECT: Some resorts will allow dogs if overseas, remember to ensure your pet-passports and inoculations are up-to-date, but availability will be limited as some properties will always remain pet-free.

BOOK PRIVATELY: The Owner will state if dogs are accepted or not.

USE A NEWSPAPER OFFER: See "booking direct" above. Dogs are usually an additional chargeable option to the booking and MUST be declared.





ETK hope this has helped with making the right choice for your holiday and wish you a great break away!