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2 in 5 holidaymakers think ‘this isn’t what I booked!’ when reaching their holiday hotel

18 July 2016

39% of Brits abroad have felt misled by travel company brochures and websites

As millions of UK holidaymakers head off on their summer break, a new survey from travel insurance has revealed that for many of them, checking into their holiday hotel will be a major disappointment.

In the survey of over 1,400 people who’ve been on holiday abroad in the last five years, 39% had checked into their holiday hotel and found it fell a long way short of the  travel brochure or website description. Of those:

  • 50% said the facilities provided by the hotel didn’t match the description
  • 43% said the rooms were nothing like the photos
  • 40% disagreed with the star rating given to the hotel
  • 28% felt the location of the hotel was not as it was described
  • 17% found the hotel had undeclared building work going on
  • 14% said that the hotel surroundings were awful but were cropped out of the brochure photos
  • 23% felt let down by the whole experience

Many of the disgruntled tourists weren’t prepared to take their disappointing accommodation lying down. 11% complained at the hotel, bagging themselves a free room upgrade, and 8% complained direct to the holiday company and received a partial refund. Unfortunately, 12% found the resort travel rep unhelpful and 17% said that they would not use the same holiday company again. 18% didn’t complain to anyone.

Alex Edwards, travel insurance spokesperson at, commented: “It’s shameful really that so many holidaymakers have felt utterly misled by travel companies’ brochures and websites. When you’ve spent several hundred if not thousands of pounds to get away for a few weeks abroad, you should be confident that what you see in the brochure is what you get at the resort. Unfortunately for many holidaymakers, what they hope will be the highlight of the summer is the let-down of the year.

“However, although it may not rescue your holiday you may be able to get some recompense if you take up your complaint with the travel company. If they’re an ATOL or ABTA member they should be operating to certain standards in the first place and will have set guidelines for dealing with complaints. If you booked with an ABTA member you’ll also be able to use their independent complaints ‘hub’ and arbitration service if you don’t feel you’ve been treated fairly by the travel company.

“You are also afforded some protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you paid for your holiday with your credit card and something goes wrong. This covers items costing over £100 and not more than £30,000.

“As a last resort you can consider taking your case to the small claims court for breach of contract. In England and Wales the maximum you can claim is £10,000 and in Scotland and Northern Ireland it’s £3,000.

“However, all consumers really want is the holiday hotel they were expecting. If you book something which looks like the Sheraton, you shouldn’t end up in a shed.” has published a dedicated guide on ABTA and ATOL protection.

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Notes to editors:

1On the 8th June 2016, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 1,424 randomly selected British adults who have been on holiday abroad in the last five years and are Maximiles UK panelists.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.