Brought to book

If you want to book your next summer holiday but haven’t got a bean, don’t worry: operators and travel agents are slashing deposits required for 2012 holidays and offering early booking discounts.

At easyJet Holidays, holidaymakers who don’t want to part with hard-earned cash up to three months before their holiday can use the late payment scheme offered on the company’s website, which has been extended until further notice.

Mandy Round, easyJet Holidays general manager says: “Some major operators demand final payment some 12-14 weeks before departure. Our offer means customers can settle that final balance just four weeks before they leave.

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“Customer response so far is incredibly positive, especially among those saving up for the trip or who want longer to plan their holiday spending.”

At, deputy managing director Matt Hall says the EU economic meltdown isn’t putting too many people off the serious business of planning holidays.

“More than three times as many people are searching for holidays, compared with this time last year,” he claims.

“Although major operators are finding it tough, we are talking direct to hoteliers in the main holiday areas, and many are prepared to discount at this stage.

“They want to have some idea of where they stand next summer. It’s a fair assumption that many of these discounts will shrink, or fade away completely, as departure dates loom closer,” adds Hall.

He tips Majorca, Ibiza, Turkey and Costa Blanca among the favourites for early bookers, with seven nights’ self-catering in Majorca, ex-Stansted on May 12, from £119, and seven nights’ self-catering in Turkey, ex-Luton, from £169.

Directline Holidays has extended special offers on its summer 2012 programme until midnight on November 25 and could extend the deadline further in a highly competitive market.

Sun-seekers can pay only the deposit now and settle the balance in spring 2012 prior to departure. And best of all, the travel website’s price promise means that if customers find their holiday at a lower price on the site at any time, they will refund the difference. This is valid on departures between July 1 and August 31 next year.

A deposit of just £95 per person will secure Directline seven night self-catering holidays from £261 in Cala d’Or, ex-Gatwick on July 2, with transfers extra.

Some operators may be keeping early booking offers on the back burner for a possible relaunch to pep up campaigns which may be flagging either side of the Christmas and New Year break.