Tourism professionals, who expect a rather busy “Franco-French” summer, are pushing to book now. But what is the benefit to the holidaymaker?
New summer under the sign of Covid-19 in perspective for holidaymakers. However, the end of traffic restrictions scheduled for May 3 is a good sign. In France, campsites, accommodation rental platforms or holiday clubs are counting on (strong) demand from French customers between June and September.
A situation already experienced last summer: more than 90% of French people taking leave in July – August had stayed in the country, according to a Raffour study. “Despite the crisis, things went pretty well last summer, so we’re optimistic for the coming season.“, positive Céline Bossane, general manager of the Huttopia brand, a high-end camping chain in the middle of nature. “We think the summer will be good but atypical, like last year, when the month of August was exceptional“, abounds Grégory Sion, general manager of Pierre & Vacances, who predicts a summer”once again Franco-French“. He nevertheless hopes – like many tourism professionals – “a little more anticipation“, the trend for the ultra last minute, having increased since the start of the pandemic.
However, is it the right time to book? What are the advantages ? How flexible are rental agencies? Answers.
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Holiday clubs: easier cancellations or postponements to encourage booking
“We strongly encourage our customers to book now for this summer as tourism is likely to be 100% blue white red and one will quickly fill up,” warns Alexis Gardy, president of Belambra Clubs. To encourage customers to go in this direction, the “Tranquility” offer benefits reservations made before April 30, a date probably extended. This free offer makes it possible to cancel up to 5 days before the start of the stay. The customer is then reimbursed (in money and not in assets) without having to justify himself.
At Pierre & Vacances, the “Flex” offer at 1 euro allows you to modify or cancel free of charge up to 3 days before the start of your stay, for holidays up to and including July; and up to 15 days for stays scheduled in August. The group also offers on its site reductions of approximately 20% on a selection of villages on pre-established dates in July and August. In addition, payment in four instalments is now offered.
The postponement/cancellation conditions are a little more complicated on the Club Med side. Excluding insurance, it is possible to cancel or postpone your stay free of charge without transport up to 14 days before departure, but on condition that “the new date of departure chosen is shifted to a maximum of 7 days before or a maximum of 7 days after the date initially planned“. For stays including transport (train or plane), cancellation or postponement can now be made up to 45 days before departure (compared to 180 usually) for 40 euros.
The “Club” offers a 15% reduction per person for any reservation made until April 27 included. This offer is likely to be extended, but with a lesser discount.
Campsites: more flexibility
In terms of reservations, campsite operators are not too worried about this summer 2021. They hope to achieve a turnover comparable to a “normal year» on the months of July August. However, “we must give people as many possibilities as possible so that they can disengage quickly and without too much expense», advocates Marc Canavaggia, general manager of Sunêlia, which has 24 4 and 5 star campsites in France. With the “Serenity Pact”, valid for reservations made until April 30 , the group offers a single deposit of 100 euros per reservation, a reduced rate. The balance must be paid on D-30. Another advantage: free cancellation followed by a refund is possible up to 60 days before departure. Here too, the dates of this Serenity Pact should be extended.
For its part, Huttopia has set up a “Zen” rate (about 20% more expensive than the “No Flex” rate) which allows you to cancel your summer stay up to D-7.
The two camping chains also undertake to reimburse or to offer a free postponement of the stay if it becomes impossible “by decisions of the competent authorities(closure, containment, etc.).
Rental platforms: it all depends on the owners
The Abritel holiday home and apartment rental expert, as an intermediary, does not intervene in the setting of prices and cancellation policies, which are the responsibility of the owners of the rented property. However, says the platform, “vacationers are more inclined to book their summer holidays in advance because they know that they could often cancel free of charge if necessary“. Since May 2020, Abritel has been encouraging rental companies to relax their cancellation conditions. To facilitate the search for Internet users, a filter has been added. “It allows vacationers to search only for listings with flexible cancellation conditions that allow full reimbursement in the event of cancellation, on a date close to the stay.»
At global market leader Airbnb, guests have a choice of three cancellation policies. In the case of “flexible” hosts (to be favored in case of uncertainty), the traveler must cancel at least 24 hours before the local arrival time if he wants to benefit from a full refund. According to the platform, the majority of listings have flexible or moderate cancellation policies, which allow full refunds for cancellations made, up to D-5 and regardless of the circumstances. Here too, a new search filter allows you to select only “flexible” accommodation.
Trains: more flexible conditions until August 29
SNCF continues to relax its exchange and cancellation conditions until August 29 for travel by TGV inOui, Ouigo, connecting TER, Nomad trains, Intercités and certain international TGVs. For trips made by May 9cancellation and exchange are possible free of charge until the last moment (until 1h30 before departure with Ouigo), regardless of the fare chosen.
For travel from May 10 to August 29 inclusive, tickets remain exchangeable and refundable up to D-3 before departure. Less than 3 days before departure, the standard ticket fare conditions apply. In the event of an exchange, the price difference remains your responsibility. TER tickets without a connection are 100% refundable up to D-1 before departure, with the exception of certain promotional fares. The refund is made in a few days on the credit card used for the purchase.
To encourage the French to plan their next vacation, the SNCF is selling five million tickets until May 19 at a maximum of 39 euros for trips until August 29. From May 4 to 15, tickets for children under 12 are sold at the single price of 8 euros, regardless of the destination, again for journeys until August 29.
Air travel: credit or change of tickets
This summer, tourist flights should mainly concern destinations in Europe, and in particular in the South (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, etc.). The main airlines departing from France maintain flexible fare conditions to adapt to travel restrictions. At Air France, for example, all tickets can be changed free of charge until the day of departure. Passengers can also request a refundable credit note valid for one year. At Transavia, it is also possible to request the postponement of your trip free of charge, up to 2 hours before departure. The difference in price on the new tickets remains the responsibility of the traveler. A few rare companies, like Air Corsica, offer passengers a full refund of their tickets in addition to the possibility of changes free of charge.