“You can’t out Walmart Walmart.”
Chairman and CEO of Virtuoso
No one wants to be taken advantage of financially or to pay more than a fair price for any particular thing. And yet we often fall prey to ads which tout the lowest price without considering whether we are shortchanging ourselves by doing that. This issue applies as much to the purchase of travel as is does to electricity and tomatoes.
Buying an airline ticket is a good example. You see a low price, including taxes and fees, but then learn that this airline, Spirit Air, charges an additional fee for each checked bag (now a familiar fee), and for reserving a seat on the plane (not for a good seat – any seat), and for each carry-on bag. (Don’t even ask about refreshments!) None of this is advertised along with the price of the ticket. Most passengers learn about these fees after they have smugly purchased their nonrefundable tickets at a great low price. But once they pay the fees for the services and amenities they take for granted, the cheap ticket costs the same as the lowest fare on other airlines.
Have you seen this musical tale about the perils of Cheap Flights on low cost Ryan Air? (Rated R for language but funny)
Resorts, hotels and cruises can offer similar challenges to the traveler looking for the “best” price. The lowest price is not necessarily the best value.
What the careful travel consumer really needs is a savvy travel agent who knows the lay of the land. She will know what hidden costs are likely to emerge once the base price is paid. She will also know what unanticipated benefits will arise from modifying a plan slightly. She will know which cases will actually yield a significantly better experience for the same or only slightly higher price. She will have the tools to compare all the available rates, and will help the traveler to distinguish between price and value.
I have heard recently about someone’s friends who were early adopters of new technology, very comfortable with the freedom and world of information provided by the internet. They confidently booked themselves into a luxury resort in the Caribbean at an amazing price. They bought airline tickets and went off, expecting a wonderful time. Imagine their surprise when they arrived to find the luxury resort practically empty (“shoot off a cannon” empty). They indicated their surprise to the front desk personnel and were told “Oh yes we have been quite busy, but it always slows down like this during hurricane season.” The couple hadn’t even thought about hurricanes. They came home without getting to know a hurricane on a first name basis – but they probably spent the midday hours inside, well out of the sun they hadn’t expected to be that strong. They have decided that there are excellent reasons to look to a travel agent for advice and value in their future travels.
The more you are spending on travel, the more you need competent advice. Will you come home from your travels to hug your cheap receipts? Wouldn’t you prefer to relive the glorious memories of that dinner by the canal, or to show friends the picture of all your family that great day in the kayaks, when the photographer had to shout over all the laughter.
Take your travel from good to great by seeking out expert advice. In the long run, it really will not cost you more.
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.
25 July 2013