Truth and Secrets about Discount Travel
To understand how you can get discount travel, it helps to understand how the travel industry works. Probably the single most important thing to remember about the travel industry is that it’s based on a perishable commodity. If an airplane takes off with empty seats or a cruise ship sails with empty cabins, the opportunity to make money from them is gone. Unlike other industries, a hotel can’t store last night’s vacancies in inventory and sell them at a later date. Vacancies must be filled on a daily basis to stay in business.
The travel industry has high fixed costs. Airlines, cruise ships, and hotels are expensive to build, maintain, and fuel. No doubt the travel industry would like to sell every seat, cabin, and room at the highest rate. More often, however, vacancies have to be discounted to attract willing buyers. It almost all cases, it is better to get some money for a ticket or key card than nothing.
Travel and hospitality providers understand that vacancies require varied rates to get filled. For much of the travel industry, the main commodity makes enough money to pay expenses. But to ensure profitability, other profit centers must be continuously introduced. For example, cruise ships make most of their profit once travelers are on board by offering hundreds of opportunities to spend more money. Profit centers include alcoholic beverages, tips, gambling, bingo, spa services, internet and phone services, fine art and antique auctions, on-board shops, port excursions, port shopping trips, and much more.
So to capture those willing buyers who spend more once on board, the travel industry offers a range of prices to appeal to different pocketbooks. Travelers can pay radically different fees for the same service. Here are three major factors that affect prices: when you travel, when you purchase, and who you are.
When You Travel-Traveling during higher traffic times also carries higher price tags. So to get better deals, choose times when traffic is lighter for the places you’re traveling to and from. This principle applies not only to the time of year, but also the time of the week and day. In the US, travel is lighter Tuesday through Thursday. And a flight from Seattle to Los Angeles might be cheaper at noon than two hours earlier. You can use travel web sites, such as orbitz.com, to check prices for dates and times, avoiding holidays for places you’re traveling between.
When You Purchase-Generally you’ll get better rates if you purchase tickets either far in advance (three months or more) or last minute (four or five days prior to departure). For last minute travel, you can use orbitz.com to find the best fare for possible combinations of departure and arrival dates. Then check this fare against the web site of the airline itself. Go to priceline.com and start bidding at 50% of the lowest fare. Increase your bid in $50 increments until you get a ticket or decide to bid no higher. You can also check last minute fares at web sites, such as travelzoo.com, lastminute.com, cruisesonly.com, and cruisevalue.com.
Who You Are-There are numerous personal qualifications that might earn you discounts on travel, such as what credit cards you hold, if you’re a member of a travel club, where you live, if you’re a senior, and so on. Credit cards with reward points can earn you significant amounts of free travel on purchases you’re already making. A membership in a travel club, such as Global Resorts Network, can earn you discounts of 40-60% on luxury travel accommodations and services around the world. If you’re traveling to visit friends in world-class vacation destinations, you might ask them if room rates are less if they book the reservations. For example, it might be considerably cheaper for a local to book a hotel in Hawaii for you. So remember to consider any club memberships or other qualifications that might give you discounts when planning your travel.