There are many ways to book a catered chalet holiday. There are big companies that own chalets all over the Alps; there’s Air BnB; there’s (enviably) knowing a friend-of-a-friend; and there’s using an agent or independent company.
We can’t tell the best way to book your catered chalet holiday. However, we can tell you why we think using a smaller, independent company is a great idea for your trip.
7 reasons why you should book a catered chalet holiday through a small company:
1) You often get to deal directly with the person in charge
- Smaller companies don’t have lots of layers of staff. You won’t come across many ‘middle men’, or passed around as much. This most important part of a business who sells catered chalet holidays is exactly that – selling catered chalet holidays! So, it’s common that the person who set up the business (and has been doing it for years) will be the very person you chat to.
- When this is the case, you get the real deal. With their skin in the game, discussing your holiday with a top-dog means you don’t get fluffy sales tactics or confusing delays while prices/terms/booking details are confirmed with senior staff. It will be as straightforward as can be.
2) Their staff all have a much better overview
- You’ll find the company has less staff, and more multitaskers. Whoever you speak to at a small company will be much more engaged with other elements of the business. This means your ski holiday is not just a set of data in a shared database. Everyone you speak to will know of your exact booking, details, payments, extras and special requests.
- Staff in smaller ski holiday companies have a really good awareness of all the business’ products or offerings. You won’t find a whole department per product! In a catered chalet company, this means knowing which chalets have balconies (for customers with smelly socks), which chalets are near the ski school meet-point (for customers with impatient children), which chalets have staff who cook amazing vegan food (for customers with that preference) and chalets with the fanciest décor (for customers wanting to make friends jealous on social media)… Hopefully, suggestions like these make for the perfect ski holiday.
3) You often get personalised payment terms
- At a boutique travel company, bookings are often dealt with on a case-by-case basis. This is quite common at The Chalet Company. This ski-season, more than ever, we’re experienced the benefits of flexible and personalised booking terms! An independent company will be doing all they can to preserve or postpone your ski holiday. For chalets, this means that if your holiday can’t happen, you have options to do it later in the season/next season/receive a refund/receive a credit note.
- Assuming all is going well and going ahead(!), your payment needs will be accommodated in an individual way. For example, you might be staying at a chalet with friends and need an extended deposit date… because, let’s be honest, gathering holiday payments from friends is like herding cats! Alternatively, you might want to pay in full earlier on, to secure a chalet, while the other family in your group decides if they can come on the trip or not.
4) More natural, personal communication
- As previously mentioned, fewer layers/departments of staff will mean that you don’t get passed around nearly as much. You’ll get to know the person on the end of the phone, and they’ll get to know you/your group/your ski holiday.
- In addition, with a less corporate company, the communication style tends to be much more natural. Staff aren’t trying to adhere to a ‘unified brand’. Let’s be honest, we’re all better-off with less jargon!
5) Customisable service and recommendations
- As you discuss your catered ski holiday in a more personal way, with just one or two key staff, you’ll be able to talk more openly about your group’s specific needs, preferences and requests. It might be a mobility issue, a special occasion, or décor preferences – we’ve had it all! Small, bespoke travel companies have the capacity to be creative and reactive with your booking and holiday. Independent ski-holiday companies are mostly set up by people who genuinely love ski holidays! We’ve had the pleasure of testing out many catered chalets in our time, and love to give recommendations on hidden gems in Méribel, favourite runs, top packing tips, etc!
6) More flexibility if things go wrong
- It’s not always plain sailing for small companies. Margins are often tight and they need every booking they can get. This creates a very ‘solutions-focussed’ attitude. Positively, this means that they’ll always go the extra mile to fix things for you. Need to drop a day from the holiday…? add a day…? add a bed…? arrive late…? etc etc.
7) Small companies have a lot more to lose
- Without big budgets for TV ads and celebrity influencers, small companies don’t have the same brand recognition as their larger, industry-leading peers. Don’t be put off if you’ve ‘never heard of them’, or their website is due a revamp! Speak to them in person and get a feel for the company’s personality. We know we’re not the only company selling catered chalets in Méribel, and there’s a lot of swanky competitors we can’t compete with. In line with this, every little helps. For example, a beaming Google review makes a huge difference to small companies. As does a sharing a recommendation with friends and family.
We hope we’ve inspired you to book a catered chalet in Méribel, through a small company (at least) and through us (at best)!
But in all honesty, if you want some advice on booking a catered chalet in France, the rest of the Alps, or the world – or advice on ski trips or holidays in general – we’re happy to help. You can leave your question and contact details on The Chalet Company’s enquire page or give us a call on +44 (0)1962 899017.