“So how much does this trip cost anyway?” This is a common question I get. This post explores some considerations with respect to cost.
One of the biggest determinants of trip cost is inclusions. Is it an all inclusive experience or is the price for only a portion of the trip? Either one can result in a great vacation experience but have a very different cost. Here’s a checklist of things that might (or might not) be included in the price:
- airfare (business class or economy),
- base restaurants,
- specialty restaurants,
- added hotel nights,
- lectures and programs,
- taxes, fees, port charges,
- resort fees,
- in room mini bar,
- ocean view balconies,
- fitness centers and spas,
- 24/7 room service,
- private pools.
There’s many more permutations of these of course. But some vacations come with everything – including the kitchen sink.
So once you know what’s included, you have to ask about it’s quality. The brochure may say that “drinks” are included but does that mean water, sodas as well as liquor? Does it include Budweiser cans or 10 different craft beers on tap? Are drinks available only during meals or 24/7? Is the liquor so called “top shelf” or the cheapest local brands? We once went to an all inclusive in the Dominican Republic. Even though all alcoholic drinks were included, we never had any after the first day. Why? They served the absolute cheapest liquor available – it was simply awful.
Of course there’s also the quality of the actual ship, resort or tour itself. I can sell you the “same” 7 day trip to Ireland (for example) from vendors with prices roughly double each other. Hotel quality (5 star vs 3 star), room size, travel accommodations (private drier vs bus), quality of the included meals and quality of the guides all make up the difference.
Sometimes pricing is tricky. The price might be higher than you expected but it may include a whole host of amenities. Ask about on board, shore or resort credits, beverage packages, internet packages, dining packages that may (or may not) be included in the price. Many times it’s actually advantageous to purchase a more costly room or cabin category with lots of amenities than to go with the lowest price and then purchase each item individually.
Terms and conditions
Knowing the price is only part of the “total cost” equation. How much deposit is required to hold the price and how soon will you be in cancellation penalties.? How much insurance do you need? Is the supplier flexible with respect to changing your mind (other ships, trips, locations, dates) or not? These are all significant costs (or potential costs) you must consider when asking how much a particular trip costs.
Don’t two for one offers cost me less?
Oh, I love this one. We all get the two for one offers in the mail or promotions via email. And sometimes they are really good. But so often pricing from Viking or Oceania comes in promoting “2 for 1”. Yet the prices already reflect this 2 for 1 deal since they ALWAYS have a 2 for 1 deal. Always. So no, most times an advertised 2 for 1 deal won’t cost less than base pricing against a competitor. As a travel professional, I can tell you straight away if the 2 for 1 offer is the real deal or just marketing hype.
Sometimes the best way to understand how much something costs is to ask what’s not included – what’s additional? By understanding what’s not included, you can help understand what your total cost will be. But sometimes you have to probe. So here’s an example. If the answer to “what’s an additional charge” is “premium wine” then you need to better understand what wine IS included. If you are into wine, you need to keep asking questions such as are only house brands included? How many types of white wine are offered?
So how much does this trip cost?
Use the lists above to determine your costs. Remember, these are all real costs, whether paid to the travel supplier or by you individually. So if your river cruise costs $3000 per person excluding airfare and pre-cruise extension, you may have to add the cost of air (business class or economy), hotel, food, tours and transfer to / from the airport.
Helping you develop, tally up and keep track all these costs is one of the things a great travel can do for you.