Friday, October 28, 2016

When To Buy Your Airfare

This article may NOT contain the answer you are looking for, but I do hope it clears up some of the confusion and misinformation that is floating out in cyberspace when it comes to the best days and times to buy airfare for your upcoming dream vacation.

First, here is a fact about airfare prices,  they fluctuate on almost a minute by minute basis.  The fluctuation is due to computer algorithms that set prices based on the number of seats still available on a certain flight.  As seats sell, prices change.  Its good ole supply and demand, plain and simple.  There are a lot of detailed articles out there trying to give more detail into why prices are so different for the same flight on any given day, but it all boils down to economics.  If a flight is a popular route, you can count on the fact that prices will reflect it (i.e. supply and demand) and that won't matter if it is on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc.

Second, we get asked all the time whether it is cheaper to fly on a Tuesday vs a Friday etc.  The answer still goes back to supply and demand.  It very well may be cheaper because a lot of business travelers leave out on Sundays and Mondays and come back on Fridays or Saturdays.  But keep in mind that airlines know this and the number of flights reflect the busier days and routes which brings up the issue of availability and the number of connections.

Third, what you see when it comes to the published fare may not be the real cost of flight.  For example, you bought a ticket on "ABC Airlines."  Then when you went to choose your seat, the only available seat for the price was a middle seat near the back bathroom.  So you see that the seat is in an awful location but you also see there are other seats that you can upgrade to for the everyday low price of $60.   So you waited until Tuesday to buy that airfare that was $30 lower but ended up paying $60 more for a seat you actually want to sit in.

So with all of this said, here are the factors that should play into your decision of when you want to buy your airfare:

1) How committed are you to the trip?  If your trip dates are set due to vacation schedules and you are set to a certain departure and return date, you should consider buying your airfare as soon as you can. I say that because if your vacation destination is a popular one, the good flights (good times and connections) can sell out while you wait to see if the fare is going to drop $20 to $50.

2) Single vs multiple connection flights.  Let's assume there are no direct flights between where you are and your destination so you will have at least one connection.  You need to weigh the importance of the number of connections as well as the layover time.  Waiting to buy on a certain day of the week and at a certain number of days before your trip can put at risk losing the best connection and layover times. Was it worth the difference in airfare if you now have to stop at 2 different airports before reaching your final destination?  Each connection carries its own risks such as the chance for bags to get lost or issues with weather or airplane equipment.  The money you might save may seem insignificant if you spend the first two days of your vacation in the same clothes you started in.

3) Time of year.  if you are flying to a destination that is popular during a certain time of year (i.e flying to Europe in June or July), the prices will not only change rapidly, but again, flights can literally sell out.  The direct flight you wanted from Chicago to Rome not only could be sold out, but the longer connecting flight may also now cost more because you waited.

Let me summarize by telling you how we consult our clients when it comes to purchasing their airfare.  If we know that the client's dates are set and we know that destination is a popular one for that time of year, we always encourage them to buy as soon as possible with only a few exceptions.  We advise them to consider the single vs multiple connection.  We help them see that taking the last flight out may appear cheaper but it may not be worth it if that flight is canceled and there are no longer anymore options out that night.  We make sure sure our clients see that the cheaper flight may have a layover until the next morning which means there will be an overnight hotel stay which also now adds to the cost.  We make sure our clients know that if it is important that they are seated together, then we need to grab the flights and seats when we can to make sure that happens.

So do you see that waiting to buy airfare on a certain day or picking days of the week that you think will be cheaper may not be the best choice?  Its not a simple answer of "always buy on Tuesday because its cheaper."  Let professionals help you understand the pros and cons of waiting or not waiting.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Making the Right Travel Decision

Any consultant worth his or her salt, seeks to provide their clients with the best possible information so their clients can then take that information and make the best decision possible.  Making right decisions, for the most part, relies on having the correct information ahead of making that decision.  We rely on experts in certain fields to provide us with that correct info whether its health related, financially related etc.  We don't turn to friends who have not been to medical school to advise us on how to treat some health ailment. We don't rely on someone who has never worked on a car engine to help us determine how to fix our broken down car. We don't take advice from financially broke friends on how to better invest our money.  The same logic should apply when someone is wanting travel advice.  Turning to non-professionals can sometimes render bad decisions because the non-professional information was flawed and possibly even incorrect.

We see this a lot in the field of professional travel consulting.  We hear of travelers being encouraged to take a cruise solely because a passport is not currently needed for a lot of cruises.  But that information is only partially correct and may lead travelers to make the wrong decision for them and their family.  We have clients come to us and say they only want to visit 2 of the 4 parks at Walt Disney World because a friend said they didn't think the other parks had enough for small children.  Again, that is not a factual statement.  Similarly we have had clients say they don't want to visit a destination like Universal Orlando Parks and Resorts because too many of the rides have a height requirement of 50in or taller.  Clients were ready to not consider that option based on that one friend's comment.  The friend's comment was incorrect.   Many discount the idea of Mexico being a vacation destination based on friend's comments about safety in Mexico.  99% of the time, those friends are not stating facts but only passing on news stories that are also not stating facts. These are just small examples of how wrong information and opinion can alter a family's vacation plans.

It is our job to help clients sift through the gobs of opinions and counter some of those opinions with simple facts so our clients can make the best decision possible for what is right for them, not for their friends. We can help clients see that having a passport is still highly encouraged even when taking a cruise for a variety of reasons.  We can help clients see what is offered for all ages at every park that makes up Walt Disney World and then let the clients decide how they want to spend THEIR time.  We can provide actual ride heights showing that the majority of the attractions at Universal Orlando are under that 50in requirement.  We can even provide actual crime statistics that show Mexico is safer than places like the Bahamas, Jamaica. Punta Cana etc for tourists.

We have opinions too.  Clients come to us for our opinions.  But even our opinions are based one what we factually know about a destination or certain type of vacation. This is why we take the time and spend the money to travel to the places we sell.  We can then offer facts, personal experiences and opinion which gives our clients the best possible info so they can weed through the hoards of options and make the right vacation choice.

So the next time you get an opinion from someone who is NOT a professional travel consultant, reach out to us or find a professional who is a right fit and trust their skill and knowledge. It could make the difference between an ok vacation and a great vacation.