How to avoid scam holidays

Don’t fall for scam holidays, no matter how desperate  you are for a change of scene!

It is so sad to read about people buying seemingly legitimate breaks and then finding out they are scam holidays 😢. Many are from people advertising holidays ‘they can no longer take’ through facebook pages and other platforms. Most  holidays are sold at inflated prices. 

Not only is it upsetting for those thinking they have bought real holidays, but it is also distressing for the hosts.

graphic of woman with questionmark

Having people turn up to your property, expecting a wonderful holiday, and you as the host know nothing about them 😫… this is the stuff of nightmares. Especially if it becomes an angry exchange.

I have heard of fellow hospitality owners having to deal with this – bearing the brunt of people’s disappointment and disbelief.

If you buy a holiday from someone ‘selling their dates’, and not from the actual host – beware! The hosts won’t have your details and won’t be expecting YOU!

After a booking there are confirmation emails, booking references, follow up information and sometimes texts/phone calls, all tailored to your stay. Often this is essential information and enables you to check the provider is legitimate.

I am no expert, legal or otherwise, but here are a few ‘useful’ tips to help you be savvy in the face of a ‘too good to be true’ last minute break.

Useful tips to avoid scam holidays:

*  Be aware that if someone has booked a holiday – the ‘contract’ is between them and the accommodation provider. Even if you ‘buy’ the holiday, the contract is not with you so you can be turned away.

* The person booking the holiday will have had to agree to the terms and conditions of the host/accommodation provider in order to complete the booking. There is usually a clause to say they can not ‘sell on’ the holiday, so your purchase will not be legal. They may also have conditions that you need to be aware of – number of people in the property, ages, access, pets, activities not permitted etc.

* ALWAYS get the name of the property/accommodation provider. Then check that they have a website, and a legitimate facebook page that has been running for a while. Also check for listings on other sites such as Airbnb, Cool Camping or other. Check these details carefully and look at the prices they charge – is it in line with the advertised break? If it is being sold on at a higher price than shown on the website, that is already a sign the seller is dishonest.

* CONTACT THE HOST – this is the most important step!! Explain you have seen this holiday advertised and ask if they have given permission for the holiday to be resold? Ask them to check the name of the seller and the dates of the booking, and the cost.

* You can express interest in the dates – but let the host contact the original booker. They can investigate the advertisement and clarify the terms and conditions. The host can choose to cancel the booking with them if they can genuinely not take the holiday anymore. This needs to be done by the host, not you as the contract is between them and the original booker.

* Often, if hosts know someone else wants the dates, they can be more flexible and refund the original person to release the dates, and then offer them legally to you.

* DO NOT PAY anyone but the host/accommodation provider – even if you know the seller!  You can still lose your holiday and money if the sale is not allowed in the host’s terms and conditions…

* Resist the temptation to show up and pretend to be the original person who booked. If it is discovered, you can lose your holiday and it can have legal and insurance implications too.


* ALWAYS CONTACT THE HOST… if the seller won’t give you the details, that is a red flag! 🚩 Walk away!

      These are just a couple of tips – but I hope they help a little.

      Just remember, if you have bought a holiday and you turn up but aren’t allowed in – be calm, be kind. The host is likely just as upset and stressed as you but can’t magic up extra accommodation to put it right!