Go ahead and admit it – you’ve Googled “travel deals” or something like it. It’s OK, lots of people do it. And why not ? We all want the best deal we can get. And it seems that Googling always seems to find information we’re looking for.
So what did I get when I Googled “Travel Deals”? Full disclosure, as a travel agent, I’m sure there’s cookies all over my computer directing Google to some of my favorite sites. So I went into Incognito mode to make sure I was getting representative results. After the ads I got the following sites: TravelZoo, Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, Travel and Leisure, Southwest Vacations and Groupon.
Any good deals lurking here? When I looked, there was nothing outrageous. But that doesn’t mean that it never happens. Sometimes there’s a great air price to Europe or a particular tour or a cruise line offers an additional amenity or two. Flash sales are real.
Who you gonna call?
If you see a great travel deal, what’s the first thing you should do? Book it? No – call a great travel agent. Here’s why?:
- You’ll likely get the same or better deal, but have all the services, back up and advice of a travel professional
- Advice. Some of the great deals may be associated with less than professional operators, lower grade hotels or simply poorly put together offerings. By calling a travel professional, you’ll get an objective view of each offering. Maybe you’ve found a great deal. It happens! But maybe you’ve found a deal that you’re better off not taking. What is included and what is left out?
- Alternatives. Perhaps you’ve found the perfect travel deal for you. But have you considered alternatives. There might be an even better deal if you wait a month to travel. Or use a different operator. Maybe these great travel deals got you thinking about a destination you would have never thought about before. Great! But that doesn’t mean that you’ve found the best way to see the destination. We can offer you alternative ways of seeing the world. And make sure that you don’t end up with the wrong fit.
Travel Deals – more questions
So let’s say you still want to book the trip, here’s some questions to consider:
- Is the travel consistent with my expectations? The things you take for granted may not be a given. Ex: is the included hotel located in the heart of the tourist area or is it out by the airport, 45 minutes from where you want to be each day?
- What does the price exclude? (taxes, fees, charges, excursions, air, meals, English speaking, experienced, insightful and engaging guides, internet, resort fees……)
- If something goes wrong, who stands behind the product? Do I have confidence that they will make it right?
- Who will advocate on my behalf both before and after I book or travel?
- Is this the off season? Sometimes this can be a great thing (less crowds and cost) but sometimes it’s the offseason for a reason (the weather for example).
- It maybe labeled as “luxury”, but is it really? How does it compare to more established luxury brands?
- Are there restrictions regarding room choice, dates or (the big one) cancellation costs?
- Do I have to pay a substantial amount of money upfront? What’s refundable vs non refundable?
- Can all the promotions advertised combined? Advertisements love to promote all the ways they save you money but when you read the “fine print” many times they can’t be combined.
- Watch the lead in price. Many times a great travel deal will be advertised but it only applies to one specific date; the date you want to travel may not be associated with this promotion.
Travel Deals – the last word
So our advice is to:
- Be mindful of great travel deals. Investigate them – yes. But ask yourself the above questions before purchasing
- Use an experienced, trusted travel agent. Chances are you’ll save even more money while ensuring you have a trusted adviser. Besides the great travel deal may not be a good fit for what your looking for. And no matter how low the price is, if it’s not what you want, it’s no deal at all.
Here’s some mistakes we’ve seen by those blindly following a great travel deal:
- Honeymooners on a cruise with an average age of 70 (not what they were looking for)
- Luxury travelers on a tour with 3 star hotels (they were not in their element)
- Cruisers who are susceptible to seasickness with a cabin at the very front of the ship (they booked a guarantee room)
- River cruise customers that didn’t realize ships raft side to side when they dock (they assumed they would use the balcony much more)
Here’s some great links for more information: