Friday, July 24, 2009

Quantity Discounts - NOT

You would think that by buying more of a product that you would get a price break. Sure, that works in practically every industry, except travel. What can you do about it?

First, let me explain a bit. You should already know, if you are a loyal reader or just a common sense travel consumer, that travel suppliers charge more when there is higher demand. Rates (airfares, cruise prices, lodging, car rentals) are at their peak, for instance, during the New Year's break in the Caribbean and many destinations. Makes sense, right? On a micro level, airlines charge more when capacity is fillings and hotels charge more during the week than on weekends.

Let's say that you are a group of four travelers. There are only two seats on a flight at the lowest price. However, when making your reservation (whatever source you use), the airline will charge the higher price times four. Hotels do the same thing. The weekend rate is substantially lower than the weekday rate but the property will charge you the weekday rate for each day; or they will charge you less each weekend day but not as low as the available weekend rate. I have seen it time and time and time again.

What can consumers do?

For the airfare situation, I will find out what the price is for one passenger (then two, then three, until I find the "magic" price break point). Many times, I have broken the group reservation into two separate itineraries to save money. For example, if two seats are available at $100 but the next two are $150, then I will buy 2 @ $100 and 2 @ $150, instead of 4 @ $150 (and save $100).

A similar process works for lodging and rental cars. I will find out the rate for each day and for each set of days. Similarly, I can make separate reservations at the same property for consecutive days in order to save money. For example, their weekend rate is $99 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) and their weekday rate is $199. For an entire week, they may quote $199 for each day or perhaps $199 each weekday plus a "discounted rate" for $159 for the weekend. By booking separate weekday and weekend stays, I would save $180 ($60 for each of the three nights).

Add this strategy to your travel planning arsenal and save money on your next--and EVERY--trip.

© 2009, Charles McCool

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