It seems so easy in this digital age to find what we want and need in a just a few clicks, and booking a last minute holiday is no exception. Gone are the days of having to trawl through brochures, or visit high street travel agents – you can now find everything from a short break to a long-haul holiday within minutes.

Why do Last Minute Holidays Exist?

Some view it as restlessness, others call it the ‘I-want-to-get-away moment’ or the ‘vacation itch’, but either way, last minute holidays exist because they appeal to our ever-changing buying behaviour. As the travel industry grows and our choices multiply, having to heavily research something prior to purchase has become less of a necessity, and this is what makes online holiday bookings, specifically last minute holiday bookings, so unique.

According to Think with Google, what contributes to the travel industry being so unique is that it doesn’t rely on loyalty nearly as much as any other industry with a presence online. Many holidaymakers and travellers looking for a last minute holiday have not even selected a destination prior to searching for their next getaway. So rather than basing their decision upon ‘traditional’ criteria – such as the destination or method of travel and provider – they are incentivised and influenced massively by price and availability, plus the appeal and satisfaction of immediacy, and booking right there and then.

Some holiday property owners, rental agencies, and even some online travel agencies are tapping into these trends, by offering services that mirror the last minute, ‘get-away-now’ buying behaviour of the consumer throughout their online marketing. But with what sometimes feels like an oversaturated market, this can sometimes pose risks to the customer.

What are the Risks of Booking a Last Minute Holiday?

Perhaps the biggest risk of booking or purchasing anything online, is the risk that the website you are using isn’t secure when it comes to collecting and processing personal data, specifically payments. There are also a number of other risks associated with booking a holiday last minute, all of which can be linked to a decrease in our usual ‘online buying filters’. In other words, with our eyes firmly on the prize of the last minute holiday, we are not as diligent as we normally would be.

‘Consumer-clouded judgement’, as it is often referred to, is when the messages about low prices and great value, plus any urgent calls to action – ‘Book NOW or miss out’ – push people to make a snap decision without considering potential risks, such as paying through a dodgy platform, or booking a holiday rental without spotting the warning signs that mean it doesn’t actually exist.

Tips for Booking Last Minute

We know that last minute deals are available, but how can you make sure you are mitigating risk?

  • Whether it’s a short city break or a last minute week in the sun, always look for membership of professional bodies, such as ABTA or I-PRAC.
  • Travel insurance is a must on any break, but perhaps more so for the last minute getaway. Travel insurance is easy to arrange and can protect you and your family from unforeseen issues, even if you only booked your holiday 24 hours in advance.
  • Check, check and check again all the arrangements, from flights and hotels to airport transfers. Checking for large gaps in your itinerary is one way of determining if the last minute holiday is value for money or a holiday scam, a common risk with last minute holidays.
  • Take care with your personal data, especially bank details. The online travel agency or platform should be secure – look for ‘https’ in the website address and use a recognised and trusted online payment system.
  • Ultimately, if you get the feeling that something isn’t right, it probably isn’t. Don’t be drawn in by a countdown offer pressuring you into booking within the next hour or two ‘or you’ll miss out’. The same is true for the pop-ups telling you that other people have booked the holiday, and only a limited number remain. Look beyond these clever marketing ploys, research the website, the companies involved and so on. Independent online reviews are also great for confirming whether the online travel agency is legitimate or not.

Start Booking with Confidence

There can be risks with last minute holiday bookings, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Booking a quick getaway that is value for money and delivers what you thought it would, is actually possible if you take the right steps.

But holiday scammers are clever, and becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods. At I-PRAC we know that all of our holiday property owners and rental agencies are 100% legitimate, because we verify and vet every single one. So whether you’ve booked your stay in advance or want to enjoy a last minute holiday, you can book with confidence with an I-PRAC approved member.