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Millions of extra pounds spent on not so inclusive all inclusive holidays

30th August 2012 Print

All Inclusive holidays may now account for well over a third (37.1 per cent) of all overseas package holidays, but new research by Post Office Travel Money has found that more than three-quarters of UK holidaymakers who chose to go All Inclusive – almost two in five of those surveyed - ended up paying for extras they expected to be covered within the package price.
The Post Office All Inclusive Holiday Report revealed that over 14 million holidaymakers paid extra for items that included international alcoholic and soft drink brands, bottles of wine, bottled water, cocktails, internet access and a la carte meals.
And, although 88 per cent of holidaymakers expected all meals to be included, a Post Office survey of 40 hotels in 20 destinations worldwide found that only a third included a la carte dining, some because they only offered buffet meals, others because they charged guests extra to eat in a la carte restaurants.  As a result, one in six of the All Inclusive holidaymakers who took part in the study – three million people – collectively paid £76.8 million (based on an average of £25.72 each) for meal choice.
While meals were the biggest expense, the study revealed that extra charges for a range of drinks also cost millions more pounds.  For example, 73 per cent of the hotels surveyed excluded bottles of wine from All Inclusive packages.  At an average cost of £13.60 for a bottle of wine, the 22 per cent of survey respondents (4.1 million people) who preferred not to drink All Inclusive house wine by the glass paid out an extra £55.7 million between them.
Internet access was another anomaly. 43 per cent of the survey sample thought free access would be available but fewer than half (48 per cent) of hotels included this in their packages. As a result, 26 per cent (4.85 million people) paid out to use the internet.  Based on an average one hour charge of £4.68, Post Office Travel Money calculated that this would add £22.7 million to the holiday bill for these people.  
When extra charges are added, the Post Office found that All Inclusive trip costs can easily mount up. For example, a la carte dining, wine, soft drinks and internet access added over £200 to the cost of a week’s All Inclusive holiday for two to Corfu in September.  Couples who pay for a moderate number of extras would spend £1,418 instead of the original package price of £1,210.
The research findings suggest this is not unusual, since under half the consumers who took part (49 per cent) said they saved money by taking the All Inclusive option.
It found further pitfalls awaiting All Inclusive holidaymakers as well.  Although 51 per cent planned for their extra expenditure by taking foreign currency with them, 29 per cent paid by credit card, 12 per cent by debit card and 11 per cent withdrew cash at an ATM, incurring hidden charges in the process.
All Inclusive Trips To Europe Pile On More Pounds Than Long Haul Ones:
As more European hotels go All Inclusive, the report flagged up big differences between the experiences of tourists who holidayed in Europe and those visiting long haul destinations. Satisfaction levels and quality ratings were consistently lower among those visiting Europe even though their expectations about what would be included were, on average, 16 per cent lower than for long haul holidaymakers. 
Furthermore, more of the European holidaymakers paid for extras than their long haul counterparts.  For example, 39 per cent paid for international brand alcoholic drinks compared with 27 per cent of long haul tourists, 21 per cent compared with 14 per cent paid for cocktails; 19 per cent compared with 11 per cent paid for bottled water and 27 per cent compared with 24 per cent paid for internet access.
Andrew Brown, Post Office Head of Travel Money, said: “All Inclusive holidays are definitely on the increase, especially in Europe, which, according to our research, now accounts for two-thirds of All Inclusive trips by UK holidaymakers.  However, as the numbers rise, so do expectations and in almost every cost category that we looked at the All Inclusive offer made by hotels fell short of what holidaymakers expected.  This may explain why although it is possible not to spend any extra on an All Inclusive holiday, we found that less than a quarter of holidaymakers did so. 
“Quality is an issue for many people.  When we asked for comments about All Inclusive experiences – particularly food, the quality ratings were much higher for long haul resorts than for European ones. Double the number of people who had stayed in European hotels said that they got bored so they left the hotel to eat and drink at least once during their stay, which is good news for the local bars and restaurants whose businesses may be impacted by the growth in All Inclusive holidays.
“Since most people pay for extras, the important thing is to carry enough foreign currency to cover items that are excluded from All Inclusive packages as this will save paying bank transfer charges on card transactions.  Before booking an All Inclusive holiday, check carefully to see what is included and plan expenditure accordingly.  Change money before leaving home to avoid poor airport rates and hidden charges for using ATMs abroad, particularly for debit cards. Instead load cash for unforeseen costs onto a pre-paid card like the Post Office Travel Money Card Plus.”
How the cost of an all inclusive holiday can mushroom

A la carte dining: 16 per cent (three million people) of those surveyed said they had paid extra to eat in a la carte restaurants during their most recent All Inclusive holiday to avoid being restricted to a buffet restaurant.  Based on the average meal cost for one person (£25.72) in the hotels surveyed, the Post Office found that eating in a la carte restaurants cost three million All Inclusive holidaymakers a total of £76.8 million extra.

International alcoholic drink brands: only 25 per cent of the hotels surveyed include these in All Inclusive packages so 35 per cent of people (6.5 million people) surveyed by the Post Office paid extra for their favourite brands.  Branded drinks cost an average of £4.34 for imported beers and £4.28 for premium spirits. If these holidaymakers paid for just one beer during their stay, the total cost would have added up to £28.4 million.

Bottles of wine: 73 per cent of the hotels surveyed excluded these from All Inclusive packages.  22 per cent of holidaymakers therefore paid an average basic price of £13.60 for one bottle – a total of £55.7 million for 4.1 million people.

Cocktails: 42 per cent of holidaymakers expected cocktails to be included, according to the research, but only half the hotels surveyed included these in All Inclusive packages.  As a result, 18 per cent (3.3 million holidaymakers) admitted paying for these at an average of £4.61 per drink – a total of £15.2 million.

Non-alcoholic drinks: Over two-thirds of people expected their holiday to include bottled water and non-alcoholic drinks but 20 per cent said they paid extra for international brand soft drinks and 16 per cent for bottled water.

Internet access: 43 per cent of people expected free internet access but less than half of the hotels surveyed offered this.  26 per cent (4.85 million people) paid extra, adding up to £22.7 million (based on a one hour charge of £4.68).

Spa treatments: The top item that holidaymakers paid extra for was spa treatments (39 per cent).  While 15 per cent said they expected this to be part of their All Inclusive package, only one of the hotels surveyed included a daily spa treatment.  Prices surveyed ranged from £38.44 to over £100 per treatment.
25 currencies are available on demand at 1,600 larger Post Office branches, while an additional 2,600 offer US dollars and Turkish lira and a total of over 8,500 branches offer euros on demand.  Over 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 Post Office branches or online at for next day branch or home delivery. Post Office Travel Money also offers a pre-paid Travel Money Card, available in euro, US dollars and sterling, which can be loaded before travel and used like plastic to settle All Inclusive holiday extras.