Rafi Mohammed

Want to Save a "Bundle" on a Last Minute Spring Break Vacation? Read This Blog.

Posted on March 17th, 2008 (0 Comments)

Kevin, a childhood friend, phoned last week to let me know he was “thinking about” visiting Boston with his daughter for a last minute spring break trip. Without advanced airline reservations, this was going to be pricey I confidently opined. “Nope,” he grinned over the phone line, “Travelocity.com is offering a special ‘bundle’ for $420 a person (double occupancy) which includes airfare and 3 nights at a well-known 4 star hotel in the heart of Boston.” Always open to learning a new pricing trick, I checked Travelocity and sure enough, my friend Kevin was right.

What’s interesting is that the retail price of the same flights included in the air/hotel bundle, if booked individually (on the airline’s web site or as “air only” on Travelocity) was $650. This is $230 more than the bundle which includes hotel. Travelocity must have special wholesale rates to offer customers who purchase an air/hotel bundle.

So why doesn’t Travelocity advertise these rock bottom bundle deals? My bet is because its suppliers won’t let them. If everyone knows about these deals, no one will pay “retail.” Companies often offer their lowest rates through hidden doors that only customers who vigorously search will discover. It’s a differential pricing tactic; only those who care about price invest in finding the best deal. Less price sensitive customers shrug their shoulders and pay retail.

A few years ago, I had to make a last minute business trip to London. Cringing at the $3,000 “no advance purchase” price for a coach ticket on my preferred morning flight, I scoured the web for an airline ticket consolidator to save my client money. My search led me to Faremax.com, a consolidator specializing in international flights. While Faremax wouldn’t name the airline or flight numbers until after I purchased, I could tell by the listed departure/arrival times that the flights they were offering for $579 were exactly the same ones that American Airlines was demanding $3,000 for. Now that’s a true bargain!

Using Faremax’s instant message feature, I requested to speak to someone about this fare. Faremax’s return instant message was fascinating; they claimed the airline offering the low fare (American) does not allow customers to discuss the fare over the phone until after the ticket was purchased. After purchasing, I could call as many times as I wanted...which I did. What a fascinating strategy – by erecting barriers that would daunt most (not knowing the airline/not being able to call before purchase), American was trying to ensure that only those who really know the consolidator game will purchase. After all, if it is easy to buy a consolidator ticket, everyone would do so. Only those who really want the discount will make the efforts that I did.

Now you know a few “back door” secrets to last minute travel. So what are you waiting for…a little spring break fun and sun is only a click away.

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