Archive - October 2010

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Must-Have Travel Apps for iPhone
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Explore: Holiday Companies Explained

Must-Have Travel Apps for iPhone

You’ve finally bit the bullet and invested in an iPhone (possibly even your second or third) – so what next? So many things you can do with it, where do you even start? Well, if you’re going on holiday in the near future – then you’ve just officially made yourself a valuable travel companion! To get through all the noise, here are the top travel apps for iPhone you need to get before you leave on holiday.

1. Photo Editing & Sharing

Your iPhone has an incredible capability to take photos. Whenever on holiday, taking photos of your experiences is as essential as packing (if not more so)!  Aside from the built-in features, investing in some extra apps to help you edit and share your photos will ensure they end up perfect. For editing try CameraBag to brighten, sharpen, crop, and add filters to your photos almost instantly. Use Pano to capture those incredible views in Panoramic images.  PixelPipe is an amazing app for sharing your photos with your friends – it is linked to over 50 supported sites (including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and WordPress) and even lets you add geotags to your photos so you can keep track of exactly where each photo was taken.

2. Language Translation

Jibbigo is an application that promises to take all the hand-gestures and guesswork out of trying to communicate in another language. All you do is say what you want to say and it says is back to you in the language of your choice! No typing required. Right now it’s available for English to Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic… hopefully with many more on the way. If you are looking for a greater set of language translation options, try iSpeak. Although you need to type what you want to say, an audio playback feature will help you get the words just right and is available in most European languages with more to come.

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3. Restaurant Locations & Reviews

The next time you’re drifting about a busy resort wondering what “looks like” a good place to eat, all you need to do is pick up your phone. Zagat to Go gives you access to thousands of restaurant ratings and reviews, including descriptions and price guides. Chances are you’ll only be in the area for a week or two at the most, so it’s best to get it right as soon as possible and save your taste buds – and your wallet.

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4. Trip Planning

From airport departure times and delays, estimated landing times and alternate flights, to parking availability, baggage claims, airline contacts and weather – TripCase has your entire travel itinerary needs in one neat little package. To sort out all the fun things you want to do while on holiday (alphabetically, by importance, cost, location & more) and store contact numbers and locations with ease, try GlobeTrot on for size.

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It goes without saying that there are so many options out there that it may be possible we missed a couple travel apps worth sharing. If you have any suggestions, we would definitely like to know!

Explore: Holiday Companies Explained

There are so many holiday companies nowadays doing so many different things that getting through all the names and their roles in your holiday booking can be extremely gruesome. This is especially true when you have a complaint to make about your hotel or you’re looking for compensation of some sort. This article intends to help you get through all the jargon and show you how it works. We’ll start from the beginning.

Travel Comparison Websites

If you’re doing an initial holiday search, chances are you’re using one of the many travel comparison website available online. These are websites like Teletext Holidays, Icelolly, Travelzoo, Travel supermarket, Kelkoo, Lastminute.com and many more. When you search these websites, the offers advertised are actually those of other companies and are not provided, organized or booked directly through the travel comparison website. All the offers you see are only advertisements for other travel agents or tour operators. When you call the number on the ads or click on a link, you are directed to the travel agency or tour operator who will give you the details and book the holiday for you.

Travel Agents

Travel agents come in many shapes and sizes. From your local independent travel shops around the corner, to your large travel agents like Hays Travel (Hays Travel is also our “parent” company – we work with them and other independent agents to get the best discounts and pass them on to you).

Travel Agents work like brokers, with access to all kinds of flights, hotels, tours, and tour operator packaged holidays. We work with commissions and discounts from these tour operators and various other suppliers that we can pass to the customer, meaning you get better prices than going straight to the source. Travel Agents are also helpful because they can provide you with a wide range of product availability and are not limited to booking with just one company.

Tour Operators

Tour Operators come in many shapes and sizes as well. The big ones are Thomas Cook, Thomson, and Cosmos. There are, however, other tour operators that provide great deals on specialty holidays. Tour Operators sell their holidays to Travel Agents with a discount and can also sell their holidays directly to you, the customer. If you go directly to Thomas Cook, for example, you will only be able to get the flights and hotels available through Thomas Cook and no one else. If you book a Thomas Cook holiday through a Travel Agent, chances are you’ve paid less for it and gone through all the different holiday options before settling on a Thomas Cook package.

Tour Operators like Thomas Cook offer flight-only and accommodation-only bookings as well, so it is very possible when you book through a Travel Agent, that you can be flying with Thomson because the flights are cheaper or more convenient and still stay in your preferred Thomas Cook hotel. The main difference between a Tour Operator and a Travel Agent is that Tour Operators often have their own flights and hotel contracts that have been paid in advance and are theirs, while Travel Agents purchase the available spaces one at a time and at the same time you book your holiday.

Bed Banks & Transfer Suppliers

Beds Banks & Transfer Suppliers are companies that provide only accommodation and/or transfers and nothing else. Some examples include Low Cost Beds, Alpha Rooms, You Travel, A2B Transfers and many, MANY more. These companies work in a few different ways. Mainly, they contract hotels and transfers either from a local (i.e. on location) broker or directly with the various hotels they provide. Because they contract large amounts of rooms, they often achieve great prices for accommodation and pass them on to you or to a Travel Agent with commission (even bigger savings for you).

Low Cost Airlines

Low Cost Airlines are just that, low cost. They don’t get any lower in cost and do not offer commissions for travel agents with discounts on flights or extras. Travel Agents can include a low cost airline in your holiday booking and still have your holiday financially protected. This is especially important if you are considering booking each holiday element separately and on your own. Booking each element on your own (not through a Travel Agent) affords you the least financial protection on your purchase and could potentially end up costing you hundreds or thousands of pounds.

Local Handling Agents

These are the agents who will be there, on location, while you are on holiday. They offer the hotel or transfer contracts to your tour operators, bed banks, and transfer suppliers. If you have a transfer booked through A2B Transfers, for example, you need to look for the local handling agent’s name (written on the voucher) when you get to your destination airport.

How This Affects You

Let us say that you’ve booked your holiday with us (a Travel Agent) and the food and service at the hotel is just unbearable. (By the way, we try not to sell these kinds of properties and we do this by asking our customers for their feedback – which is always appreciated). You complain to the hotel reception and they tell you to phone us. Once you call us, we need to send your complaint to the Bed Bank or Tour Operator who we booked your hotel with (since you are our customers, and we are their customers, you usually cannot contact the supplier directly). That Bed Bank or Tour Operator, depending on how they’ve contracted the specific hotel, will contact the local handling agent to pass along your complaint and come up with a solution and a response.

Although this process is time-consuming, we always work with our suppliers to develop better and faster ways of resolving problems. For emergencies, the number of the local handling agent is always on your vouchers. This is the same for any component of your holiday, whether it is booked as a package from one Tour Operator or as a “Dynamic Package” through many suppliers.

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