‘Family holiday’ prizes… in term time?

So, you’ve spotted an amazing competition to win a week’s family holiday – but when reading the small print, you notice the holiday can’t be taken during school holidays. If you’re lucky enough to win, you’ll need to take your children out of school – and might end up with a £60 per absence (per child) fine from your Local Education Authority!

I’ve been contacted several times lately by people asking what the ‘rules’ are with advertising a family holiday, and hopefully this post will explain the situation.

The important word here is ‘family’. If a company advertises a ‘family holiday‘ then entrants naturally assume the holiday is available to children of all ages rather than babies and toddlers – and so, the winner should be able to take this trip during school holidays. So a company can’t advertise a family holiday if their blackout dates include all school holidays!

If the prize cannot be taken in any school holiday, then it’s fine for a company to advertise it as a ‘holiday for four’, for example – but they must not use the word ‘family’ or refer to activities for school-age children. They should also avoid using photographs of school-age children to advertise the holiday.

The Advertising Standards Authority have ruled against several companies who have advertised family holidays that must be taken in term time. Here are two examples:

  • An Archant Life promotion to win a family holiday was branded ‘misleading’ by the ASA, as the terms and conditions stated it couldn’t be taken in school holidays.
  • The ASA ruled that a Center Parcs advertisement for cheap midweek term-time breaks featuring school aged children ‘irresponsibly encouraged parents to take their children out of school’

If you’re entering a holiday competition, take the time to read all the T&Cs before you decide whether to enter. And if you notice someone advertising a family holiday that can’t be taken in school holidays, send the promoter a link to this post – or send a complaint through to the ASA.

Further reading:  ‘Holiday Promotions’ – ASA.org.uk

Have you ever won a ‘family’ holiday – and were you able to take it during school holidays? 


21 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    If I win and I don’t have children can I go with my girlfriend?

  2. Valeria Balan says:

    Hi ,
    The fine is 60£ per child per parent .
    I took my 3 kids (ages 5,7,9 )off school on June 2019 for an emergency trip for 3 days only and in September we have been fined £120 per child (as I said £60 per child per parent).If the fine is not paid within 27 days then it is doubled …. if still not paid u can be fined £1000 and prosecuted.

  3. Faridah Brooker says:

    There is currently a holiday comp on Green People https://www.greenpeople.co.uk/may-2019-competition?source=aw&affid=286471&awc=1613_1558884639_9e767dbaae176dc7333deefbf712027c for a Family holiday to Greece, which has to be taken on 28th Sept. I messaged the company and gave them this link. They said they would send it to management to look at. I haven’t entered unfortunately and I wondered if I should report them to the ASA?

    • Di says:

      This one’s tricky – because the advertising doesn’t actually say ‘win a family holiday’. Family is just mentioned in the rest of the text, so I don’t think the ASA would uphold a complaint unfortunately.

  4. Faridah Brooker says:

    https://www.bellaitalia.co.uk/middleschool This is a comp I have found today and the t&cs state that you can’t have July or Aug flights but it is clearly advertised as a family holiday. I’d love to enter but don’t want to risk it. Shall I get in touch with Bella Italia?

    • That one’s fine because you could travel during the two half terms in May & October – “Valid for departures from 1st May to 31st October 2018 excluding July & August departures”. It’s only where EVERY school holiday is excluded that you can complain. Hope that helps!

  5. Leila Benhamida says:

    I won a family holiday to Tenerife and we are able to travel over the school holiday periods apart from Easter and Christmas. We just booked our week holiday for August. It was a competition with Bella Magazine. I do read the terms and conditions since reading your blog as I will be gutted if I win and can’t enjoy the prize.

  6. Catherine McAlinden says:

    I was once told that I couldn’t take my “family holiday” during school holidays. I was very polite, pointing out that I didn’t want to take them out of school, and they let me change the date! Good to know the rules.

  7. Alex Cuckson says:

    Really interesting. I have a child approaching reception-school age and I hadn’t given this much thought (although I normally read the T’s & C’s).

  8. Donna Oakley says:

    Thanks for pointing this out. Will not rule as many holiday comes out now and will have my eyes peeled for misleading comps!

  9. Faridah Brooker says:

    I have not entered many holiday comps for this reason – by the time all the blackout dates are excluded you’re left with about 1 week in the year when you can take it. Also a lot of holiday comps give you no notice either – the ‘use by’ dates are in the next month – who can go with that short notice?

  10. Jen Everdecreasingcircles Engl says:

    As I work in a school I’m not allowed time off during term time so can’t enter comps with black out dates like that. It also really annoys me that they’re encouraging families to take their children out of school during term time.

  11. Katie Skeoch says:

    This! I’ve been disappointed a few times when entering as the dates are never valid. I just don’t enter them any more. I’ll be bookmarking this though!

  12. Cath Parkin says:

    I’ve avoided holiday competitions in the past as so many aren’t suitable as they’re for 2 people only or are to be taken in term time. I’m going to actively seek out family holiday comps and I’ll be sure to contact the promoter if they’re advertising “family holidays” that can only be taken in term time!

  13. Sammy Fairman says:

    I’ve won 2 family holidays; one was with Forest Holidays and I was able to pay a small upgrade to take the holiday in half term which I was more than happy to do and another via a photo comp on Twitter and although it was a 3 night weekend stay the lovely lady is actually letting me use it for the half term week Mon-Fri!

  14. Julie Lorraine thomas says:

    This is a real problem for families and having worked in schools for over a decade I know that the school system is getting tougher on taking children out of school. Some years ago I was lucky enough to win a Centre Parcs holiday I still had children in education so rang CP to see if they could help, they not only allowed us to take the holiday out of termtime they also helped with the numbers in our party for no extra charge (we have four children and the prize was actually for two adults and two children). They didn’t have to assist but credit to this company they were very helpful. Would say that holiday comps in particular its worth reading those t&cs for timing, numbers and if its transferrable if you are trying to win for someone else.

  15. karen hutchinson says:

    Interesting – it really annoys me when you get to the end of the terms and see it isn’t valid in school hols . best magazine had a family holiday competition on their cover in November last year but when you looked at it , it was for 2 people – I sent a Facebook message advising this was misleading but they didn’t even reply .

  16. rebecca beesley says:

    I used to not worry about the kids missing school (and it wasn’t a problem when we homeschooled either) but with J at secondary school now, he would miss so much important stuff that I tend to avoid even entering those with lots of blackout dates. We didn’t even enter the mark warner blogger ambassador comp this year as the dates seemed to exclude the school holidays which is a shame as their activities are definitely aimed at lots of ages of children.

  17. cakesphotoslife (Angie) says:

    I have recently seen one with blackouts except for October half term and the ‘family’ are for 2 adults and 2 children under 9 I don’t feel that is a family holiday for so many of the population is that acceptable under ASA also? X

    • As long as the ages are specified clearly that’s fine – I would hope to see restrictions at the point of entry though, rather than tucked away at the end of the small print! But why ‘under 9s’ – it’s usually under 12s. Very strange!

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