Thomas Cook, the popular UK-based travel agent, announced this week that they were going to take the reins of Essential Travel through the acquisition of Essential’s parent company Think W3.
If the deal is approved by the FSA, as expected, it will be a real boon to Thomas Cook’s portfolio of travel services they are able to offer customers.
A Nice Coup For Thomas Cook
Essential Travel have been around for about a decade and have established themselves as a leading online travel extras provider, with products ranging from travel insurance to airport parking to airport hotels with parking. The company reported gross assets of £2.5 million for the financial year that ended on the 31st of March 2009.
The Reasoning Behind The Move
Manny Fontenla-Novoa, chief executive of the Thomas Cook Group, said:
“We continue to believe a strong position in the direct travel insurance market is strategically important.
“Furthermore, we expect that together with the experienced directors of Essential Travel, we can build upon our respective strengths to enhance Thomas Cook’s position in both travel insurance and other travel services such as airport parking and airport hotels.”
Tell Us What You Think
What do you think? Should service providers like Essential Travel try to remain independent to prevent just a few big companies from creating a stranglehold on the market? Leave us a comment and let us know.
Our championing of gosimply.com’s great service is being echoed now by the BBC’s Working Lunch programme, and they’ve endorsed gosimply.com as a place to go for great airport parking deals.
In the segment, presenter Ben Shore recommends pre-booking your airport parking in order to save money, and namechecks gosimply as a price-comparison site to use.
Gosimply also has a Low Price Guarantee, ensuring you won’t find a better deal anywhere. That, combined with their exceptional user-friendliness and helpful information, makes using them for booking airport parking, airport hotels and other travel extras a complete no-brainer.
Their tagline is “smart people gosimply” and I don’t see any reason to disagree!
Gone are the days of simply turning up at the airport and with minimal time and fuss, simply boarding the plane and waiting for take off. As with any journey, a little research and planning can go a long way to easing the stress of the trip to the airport and enhancing the enjoyment of your holiday or business trip.
Rather than dreading the pre destination part of the journey between front door and the aircraft seat, why not make it an enjoyable part of the overall experience so that you arrive at your destination refreshed and relaxed. Start your holiday from the moment you leave home with the help of these simple tips.
Picking the best airlines
Especially important if you’re embarking on a long haul flight, the varying differences in legroom and standards of service can make all the difference. With a little research on websites like www.airlinequality.com you can read extensive customer reviews that can help you decide on which airline is best for you.
Some airlines now offer this service that allows you to check-in online and in some instances, enable you to pick your own seat. Online check-in facilities do vary between airlines and are normally on a first come, first served basis. Check-in is usually available up to 24 hours in advance but rules and terms can vary so it’s always best to double check when booking your trip.
Although high end upgrades can be expensive, some standard and last minute upgrades can be had for a much more palatable surcharge of around £15.00*. Upgrades are well worth looking into especially on Long haul flights as a relatively small surcharge can bring about a big difference in the standards of comfort and enjoyment of your flight.
Booking a seat with a view
Enjoyed by most first time or seasoned travellers, a window seat truly does give you a window to the world. Operated by Trip Advisor, www.seatguru.com provides a guide to the best seating on all of the main airlines. Simply select an airline and aircraft type for a detailed seating plan and a handy guide on the seat position.
Getting to and from the airport
Probably one of those things that people leave to the last minute. For those who intend to drive to the airport, this is rarely a problem with the extensive range of cheap and affordable airport car parking deals either at or near to the airport. Alternatives include either getting a friend or relative to pick you up and drop you off although this can be inconvenient with early morning or late night flights. Using public transport such as buses and trains can be a viable means of getting to the airport. Service operating times and the cost of some journeys however may exceed the cost and benifits of travelling by car. Whatever means of transport to the airport you decide on, it’s always best to plan well in advance and allow extra time for potential delays.
A good time to fly
Not always an option for all but if possible, try to avoid booking flights that are on school and bank holidays. Statistically, mid-week flights are usually less crowded than weekend flights with Mondays actually being the busiest flying day of the week. With a little research and planning, £££’s can be saved on flights if booked on less popular dates and times.
Local and regional airports
Many airlines now operate services from some of the smaller local and regional airports. Although there may not always be a flight to your destination within the required time frame, it’s always worth checking. Why travel potentially hundreds of miles to one of the major national airports like Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Luton or Manchester when there maybe a suitable flight from one of the smaller regional airports potentially saving time, hassle and money.
Start your holiday early
No one enjoys the prospect of a long drive to the airport late at night or in the early ours of the morning followed by hours of waiting at the airport terminal. Chances are that by the time you arrive at your destination, you’ll be tired and harassed and looking forward to a rest. An easy and affordable way of avoiding this scenario might be to book an overnight stay at one of the many airport hotels at or near to the airport. With prices starting from as little £30.00* with full access to a range of hotel facilities, you can add a whole new dimension to your holiday by waking up refreshed, relaxed and usually just a matter of minutes from the airport terminal.
Often thought of as something that only executives or celebrities use, airport lounges are in fact a facility that is available to anyone. Usually costing in the region of £15 to £20* per person, the airport lounge admission price usually includes access to a range of complimentary snacks, soft drinks, newspapers, magazines and more. Facilities on offer can vary from lounge to lounge but some also include free alcoholic beverages and internet access in the price. Airport lounges provide an opportunity for you to relax and unwind in a less stressful environment with some great home comforts like sofas and TV.
Turning up at the airport with excess luggage can cause no end of problems for you, your travelling partners, family or friends. To avoid potentially expensive excess luggage charges or the prospect of emptying everyones cases in an attempt to re-distribute the load, pack carefully. Only take what is really necessary, you’ll be surprised at the amount of things that people will pack that they don’t really need. Check the luggage weight restrictions of the airline well in advance and prior to departure just incase they have changed. Weigh your cases prior to leaving for the airport and make sure that the scales you use are accurate. Never go right up to the maximum weight allowance on your own scales and allow for a margin of error, if your scales are understated by just a couple of pounds you’re likely to face an excess luggage charge at the airport.
By following some or all of these simple tips, you can help to make your travel experience that little more enjoyable and a little less stressful. For further information, the latest deals and to compare airport parking, hotels and airport lounges visit www.gosimply.com. Further advice and information on BAA operated airports such as Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, can be found at www.baa.com or alternatively by phone on 0870 8502825.
Your views and travel experiences
If you have any interesting stories or helpful travel tips, why not let us know?
* Prices shown and marked give an approximation of the costs involved. Prices of airport services are based on date and time of travel, airport concerned, car park, hotel or lounge operator and service availability at the time of booking.
In a recent article, the Times Online has named what it considers to be the top ten travel websites.
Rather than focusing purely on website statistics alone, sites with high visitor numbers which can also be low on thrills, the Times has opted to select websites that they feel are more interesting and offer ease of use plus extensive information on products and services for visitors.
As with any top ten list, it’s often found that some less well known companies are found to offer as much or sometimes more than the bigger well recognized organisations in the market reinforcing the advice to shop around.
An online comparison website that allows visitors to compare travel related products and services from thousands of service providers. Although one of the biggest players in the price comparison field, the service is limited to companies that pay to be included within its listings so alternative comparison sites shouldn’t be ruled out when searching for the best online deals.
Ok, so it may be blowing their own trumpet but for good reason. The Times Online is world renowned for the quality of its travel articles plus its feeds and links to other great quality sites, deals and travel blogs.
Another great comparison website that’s quick and easy to use, instantly returning availability and pricing details from the leading parking providers allowing users to quickly compare and book from a simple search. Covering over 120 car parks at 24 airports across the country, as well as central London parking and Dover port parking for ferry and cruise services, the site saves both time and hassle when looking for the best deals online. The sites ability of providing instant access to the best deals isn’t limited to airport parking alone as airport hotels; airport lounges and car hire are also catered for and work on the same basis as the airport parking service.
With around 98% of its bookings now made online, the no frills airline claims that with it’s easy to use online search and booking facility, bookings can be made in around 3 minutes. The review concludes that although airport parking, airport hotels and car hire can also be booked via the site, better deals can be found elsewhere with other major comparison sites.
Does exactly what the name suggests. With a large range of availability for last minute bookings, discounts of upto 70% can be made on the published room rates if booked upto 7 days in advance. If you draw a blank on your search with laterooms .com, alternatives such as Wotif.com could provide the answer with a booking window of 28 days.
Maybe one of the lesser known sites but this great travel-networking site puts you in touch with the worlds travel community. The name which is short for “Where are you now?” currently has over 8 million members. Based in the UK, the site is great for getting and keeping in touch with other travellers around the world.
When booking a last minute departure, it’s now more important than ever to check the weather at your destination with ever increasing occurrences of flooding and storms. Although sunshine and rainfall figures can sometimes be found at travel agents, these can appear optimistic when compared with official meteorological statistics. The World Weather Information Service is run by the World Meteorological Organization and uses official data to create forecasts at more than 1,200 locations worlwide.
A great alternative to the various software options available, Multimap.com provides access to maps that are packed with useful details and driving directions in a clear and easy to follow format that can be printed. The site remembers your previous searches and allows you to send maps direct to your mobile phone. The site covers much of the worlds road network although the level of detail can reduce dramatically when comparing say a major city to some of the farther flung locations.
Established for almost 10 years, Expedia has built a reputation of trust and reliability within the trade. With a huge inventory of deals on everything from car hire to flights, it’s a great resource for travellers looking for the latest travel information and deals online.
Owned by Expedia, Tripadvisor is geared towards user-generated content. With over 10 million reviews, there has in the past been suspicion that a number of the reviews have been written by hoteliers and other individuals to falsely boost the rating of a service or venue. This said however, hotels with a large number of reviews tend to provide a good indicator of the overall standard; Tripadvisor is also getting better at spotting and weeding out false review submissions.
Airline tickets for the first flights to operate from the new Heathrow terminal 5 are being sold by BA.
The new terminal which is due to open in March 2008 will be exclusively used by BA which will operate 90% of its flights from the new site. BA has planned a four phase move that will see the majority of their operation move to the new terminal between the opening date and October 2008. The remaining 10% of BA’s services including some short haul services will continue to operate from Heathrow terminal 3. After BA has moved the bulk of its services to the new terminal 5 the oneworld alliance will have exclusive use of Heathrow’s terminal 3.
BA is spending £60 million on providing premium lounges in the new building which will house up to 2,500 passengers and be known as The Galleries. The overall cost of the new terminal site and building is expected to be around 4.5 billion.
Every year, I look forward to those couple of weeks when I can get away with my partner to enjoy some quality time in some distant land. Although we both look forward to a well deserved holiday, there’s always the same little hiccup every year when things get tense between leaving home for the airport and arriving at our holiday destination.
The trip to the airport always seemed to upset the balance of Karma and I could never figure out why. Every year I would analyse the whole experience to find out why our normally tranquil relationship would, for a few brief hours, seemingly fall apart. Had I not left enough time for traffic delays? Had I not got the best deal on airport parking? Had I missed some other detail that was so important to my partner?
In the end, I just put it down to the old saying that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. After years of self analysis, I can at last relax thanks to a recent survey conducted by Leflein Associates Inc for Amadeus North America. Without boring you with the facts and figures, this survey of a thousand travellers (500 men & 500 women) basically concluded that women get more stressed than men when traveling as they tend to worry more about catching a flight or connection. Now this conclusion may very well upset a lot of women travelers who will strongly disagree, but it’s a good enough explanation for me.
Apart from telling my partner not to worry, which can make the situation worse, I can’t really change her perception of what she considers to be a potential problem or not. This survey however has made me realize that, as far as traveling to the airport car park and catching our flight is concerned, we don’t think alike. Like they say, a little knowledge is a powerful thing.
In an attempt to make this year different, I carried out a little research and found that for less than the cost of a good night out, I could bridge the normally stressful period and earn some brownie points in the process.
For this year’s Easter break, I’m extending our normal long weekend by an extra day. Travelling to the airport the day before our flight will avoid any panic over time, traffic, or other unforeseen problems. I’ve booked an overnight stay at the 3 star Luton Holiday Inn airport hotel with inclusive airport parking for the duration of our holiday for just £79. With Internet access, swimming pool and gym I thought it would be the perfect way for us to relax and get a good night’s rest before our flight. If this doesn’t re-balance the airport Karma, I don’t know what will. Rest assured, I’ll check in on my return and let you know how it worked out.