Consumer watchdog magazine Holiday Which? has urged holidaymakers to book holidays online, after an investigation revealed vast differences between brochure and web prices.
The magazine examined prices for holidays created by traditional brochure providers Skytours (Thomson), Airtours (MyTravel), JMC (Thomas Cook) and First Choice, and then compared the final cost to the same holiday online.
The overall price for booking online was cheaper for all of the four leading tour operators, while supplements for airport departures around the UK also varied between the companies.
In one case the price varied by almost £500 for a family of three at a resort in Mallorca.
The publication of the report comes during another period of unease in the independent travel agent community about how much tour operator websites are undercutting the prices displayed in High Street brochures.
Holiday Which? editor Lorna Cowan said: “For people already looking through holiday brochures and thinking about their summer holiday, make sure you read the small print.
“Extra costs can make booking a package holiday an expensive option – we urge holidaymakers to check costs, compare prices and go online to the operators’ websites.”
Thomson, one of the companies featured in the investigation, said: “All brochure content including prices is thoroughly checked and accurate at the time of going to press. Throughout the lifespan of a brochure there are several editions, as prices and other information regularly changes.
“As holiday prices fluctuate throughout the year we can not make instant changes to brochures, unlike websites and shop windows.
“However, Thomson has introduced a ‘Web prices on the high street’ policy, whereby customers pay the same price for a holiday in Thomson shops as they would on our website, meaning consumers can shop how they choose with no price differential.”