Winston Aldworth 's Opinion

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: Browser beware

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Overboard: Phones are on top of the cruise ship drop list. Photo / Getty Images
Overboard: Phones are on top of the cruise ship drop list. Photo / Getty Images

Are you getting the best deal online?

We generally think that by booking through big travel websites we can take advantage of their economies of scale to get the cheapest possible rate.

But the British Office of Fair Trade has rumbled some of the biggest online travel companies and hotel chains for price fixing.

The big firms have been accused of setting minimum prices, forcing hotels themselves not to undercut those prices or risk being dumped form the big sites.

The loser in all this?

Consumers looking for a place to rest their heads.

Expedia, one of the biggest online booking sites in the world, has admitted it "engaged in cartel conduct in breach of the law".

Expedia is co-operating with the OFT as InterContinental Hotels and Booking.com are investigated.

Undersea app

The classic Love Boat scene - where the ship pulls away from port and the guests wave farewell to shore - is still played out on cruise vessels around the globe. But, this being a smart-phone world, most of the passengers are these days filming the shoreline on handheld devices.

Inevitably, there are some casualties: "iPhone overboard!!"

Research by a British cruise travel agent has found that around 11 percent of passengers dropped hi-tech gadgets overboard last year. With the overboard gadgets valued at an average of $170 a pop, they figure there's around $31.5 million worth of gear sleeping with the fishes.

Tech gadgets are the things you're most likely to lose on holiday, and given that these days you can get an excellent camera for just a few hundred bucks, many of us find it's not worth the hassle - and loss of excess - that goes with claiming this stuff on travel insurance.

The survey by bonvoyage.co.uk found phones were top of the drop list, making up 41 per cent of the lost items. Cameras - both digital and still - were next at 32 per cent, Kindle reading devices at 29 per cent and - in figures that will cheer that heart of many a parent - handheld game consoles came in at 26 per cent (go read a book, junior).

The cheapo solution of keeping a tatty old phone in your top drawer and switching the sim card over when you hit the road may have reached its use-by date.

Many travellers need the convenience of email at hand to check flight details and confirm hotel bookings. And that's before you even delve into some of the fabulous the apps and internet access that make us smarter travellers.

- NZ Herald

Winston Aldworth

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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