StrongEcho

Is Traveling Cheap After All?

Posted on: December 7, 2010

As I have addressed in my previous blog post (Is Traveling Hurt by the Current Economy?), traveling has become a luxury activity which is very expensive. But there are people from all over the world who will not give up their favorite hobby for any reason. I’ve also mentioned that there are a number of ways to reduce the cost of traveling to the minimum. One of the ways was to shop around and look for cheaper prices.

A decade ago, if you wanted to travel you would visit travel agencies who could provide you with various choices of airline tickets and hotel rooms’ prices from different suppliers. I am not making a mistake by talking in past tense about those travel agencies. Even though they still exist, rarely anybody uses their services. Today everything is done online: the same travel agency but without physical location. This “revolution” has changed the whole traveling industry. But is this good or bad for a regular traveler?

It seems like that online websites are making our jobs easier and less time consuming to buy an airline ticket and reserve a hotel. Have you ever tried to Google words like “Cheap traveling,” “Cheap hotels” or “Cheap flights”? Instantly you will get more than 9 million hits. Due to recent economic reasons which made cheaper traveling searches a profitable industry, a lot of new companies were created this past three to four years, trying to accommodate travelers with affordable hotels, airline tickets, and even car rentals. Most probably, you have seen commercials or at least heard of websites like Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire, and Orbitz. These companies’ competitive advantage over travel agencies is that their system is designed to track the price changes and availabilities of every flight offered by all major airline companies in the specific geographic location. And, since airline ticket prices are determined according to Yield Management process in order to maximize the profit, they change every second.

Nevertheless, have you ever experienced difficulty in making a decision about which website is the cheapest? Well, it can be an exhausting experience since every time your search gives you new price options. But there are companies who’ve made the next step and have consolidated all the possible cheap choices for the particular search parameters. Examples are smartertravel.com, priceline.com, cheaptickets.com, etc. This makes your job easier and more convenient since you can compare all your choices side by side. Moreover, Google has gone ever further by introducing new search engine for travelers: “Today, almost half of all airline tickets are sold online. But for many people, finding the right flight at the best price is a frustrating experience; pricing and availability change constantly, and even a simple two city itinerary involves literally thousands of different options. We’d like to make that search much easier…”

But is it really cheaper to book a flight online? Just recently I was planning on visiting my relatives in Europe. And I thought this is a great opportunity to check the validity of my hypothesis – cheap-flight search websites offer precisely the same or greater prices as the individual airline homepages. So not only I went to the nearest travel agency, and checked airline homepages, but also tried to find as many cheap-flight search engines as possible. I picked couple of flight routes from various airlines and different days. Then I matched and compared the prices from the travel agency, airline homepages, and cheap-flight search websites. The result was shocking. Not only the cheap-flight search websites didn’t provide cheaper alternative for my choices but, on the contrary, they were higher from the travel agency and airline homepages. The best scenario was that cheap-flight search websites matched the price exactly with those of other sources.  I have proved my hypothesis to be true in most cases.

It is a misunderstanding to think that if somebody advertises cheaper options, they are in fact cheaper. We simply need to remember that cheaper prices offering websites’ suppliers are the same airline companies which we are trying to avoid in order not to overpay for airfares.

It is worth taking time and shopping around, especially, if you are a price-sensitive customer. The good news is that cheaper-flight search websites are not the only way to cut you a good deal for traveling. Several bloggers offer different techniques:

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3 Responses to "Is Traveling Cheap After All?"

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I’ve been observing posts. I usually uncover you articles enlightening.

I adore your blog too much. Continue to keep working on it.

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