British holidaymakers are being charged hundreds of pounds more than overseas customers by travel firms presenting higher prices on UK websites, according to a new study.
Research commissioned by cybersecurity company NordVPN found that from car hire and cruises to ferries and theme parks, consumers are frequently being presented with wildly different prices depending on where they log on.
Using the New Zealand website for Avis car hire resulted in a huge 49.4 per cent saving for a 14-night deal — the biggest discount identified in the study.
British holidaymakers are being charged hundreds of pounds more than overseas customers by travel firms presenting higher prices on UK websites, according to a new study
For the study, carried out between August 24 and September 6 this year, NordVPN’s researchers used its Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to make it look to websites like they were not in the UK.
A VPN disguises a user’s IP address while ‘improving privacy and security’.
NordVPN said: ‘You select a country and NordVPN ensures that’s where websites think you are. VPN users are then able to see the differing content – and prices – shown to overseas consumers.’
When the researchers used VPNs on the New Zealand website for Avis they found a saving of £1,226 on a two-week hire of a Toyota Camry at Auckland Airport in April 2023, with the price reduced from £2,484 (for UK users) to £1,258. That’s a saving of 49.4 per cent, or looked at another way – UK users here are being charged 97 per cent more.
Meanwhile, Hertz quoted a price that was 44 per cent lower for a Toyota Agya in Cape Town via the South African website for June 2023 – charging £529, a saving of £416.
When researchers used VPNs on the New Zealand website for Avis they found a saving of £1,226 on a two-week hire of a Toyota Camry at Auckland Airport (above) in April 2023
A seven-night Mediterranean cruise with MSC Cruises in June next year was 28.4 per cent cheaper for an interior cabin through the Italian website than the UK site – £454 off at £1,144. A 10-night Caribbean cruise in July next year was £573 (17.2 per cent) cheaper at £2,765.
Visiting Booking.com from Spain netted a 15.7 per cent saving on a seven-night stay at the Carnival Palace Hotel in Venice in February – £293 off to £1,576.
Visiting Tui’s German website earned a £339 (10.8 per cent) saving off a 14-night stay at Hotel Riu Palace, Tenerife, next June, priced at £2,807.
Going to Hotels.com from an Italian server served up a 10.5 per cent (£128) lower price on a seven-night stay at San Firenze Suites & Spa, Florence, in March – bringing the price down to £1,089.
The French website for Disneyland Paris offered a seven-night stay in December at the Disneyland Hotel New York for £5,406 for a family of four – a saving of 17.6 per cent (£1,156).
Companies use all kinds of complex algorithms to cater to the purchasing power of different countries. They will routinely show different prices on different website domains, and it can even differ depending on where you’re visiting from.
Marijus Briedis, Chief Technology Officer at NordVPN
The website for Center Parcs in Germany (a separate company to the UK holiday parks) delivered a 9.1 per cent saving on a seven-night stay for eight people at Park Hochsauerland in October. It was down from £2,064 to £1,876 due to a sale event.
A Channel crossing for a family of four in October, travelling from Portsmouth to St Malo, was 10 per cent cheaper through the French website of Brittany Ferries at £430 (£48 off).
Marijus Briedis, Chief Technology Officer at NordVPN, said: ‘Never assume you’re seeing the same price as everyone else. UK consumers have always known it’s wise to shop around, but the age of the internet means you now need to shop around with the same provider.
‘Companies use all kinds of complex algorithms to cater to the purchasing power of different countries. They will routinely show different prices on different website domains, and it can even differ depending on where you’re visiting from.
‘Anything a website knows about you can be used against you. The factors most likely to influence the price you see are your location, your repeat visits to the website being tracked by cookies and whether your search coincides with a school holiday at home.
‘We’ve demonstrated how you can save hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds a trip by using a VPN to access the websites seen by customers overseas. You don’t have to be a computer scientist to bag these savings. VPNs are so easy to use, anyone can do it.’