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Holiday prices can soar by £3,000 in just one day: Study finds huge fluctuations as firms admit using software to change costs based on supply and demand

We’re all wary of holiday rip-offs, knowing prices can soar if you book late or travel during school breaks.

But now a study appears to lay bare the true extent of the holiday price lottery – claiming online deals can change by hundreds of pounds from one day to the next.

The price of a trip to Florida apparently soared by £3,370 in a single day before falling again the day after.

Prices for family of four based on departures from London Gatwick on August 5

The study, which every day for two weeks checked the online prices of ten holidays to be taken in August, found other trips to Spain, the Canary Islands and the Greek islands rose or fell by hundreds of pounds.

Some travel firms questioned the accuracy of the research.

But they confirm using ‘dynamic pricing systems’ where they can change prices based on supply and demand – sometimes automatically via computer software that measures website traffic, sales and availability.

This means families struggle to know if their quote is fair.

The biggest change was for a 14-night family holiday with Virgin to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort in Orlando.

A study appears to lay bare the true extent of the holiday price lottery – claiming online deals can change by hundreds of pounds from one day to the next

The website quoted £5,683 on Wednesday, April 12, rising to £9,053 on Thursday but falling to £5,886 on Friday, the study by currency firm FairFX found.

Prices for a week’s stay at the Best Jacaranda Hotel, Tenerife, with Thomas Cook ranged by £525 over the fortnight, while costs for a Thomson resort on Kos and a First Choice resort in Rhodes fluctuated by £1,500.

FairFX chief executive Ian Strafford-Taylor said: ‘We found you really do pay over the odds if you book on the wrong day.

‘There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the way prices change and it really is a lottery. [This] is not fair on families and these extreme cases need addressing.’ Virgin said it could not verify the £9,053 quote, adding: ‘We operate a dynamic pricing system which regularly updates our website. Variations in price are mainly influenced by demand and availability.’

A spokesman for TUI, which owns Thomson and First Choice, said: ‘Prices fluctuate due to supply and demand as there are a finite number of rooms and flights available.’

Thomas Cook said the results ‘don’t match our records or the way our prices change’, and also cited supply and demand.