Last-Minute Travel Deals Still Exist — If You’re Patient

April 12, 2010 at 9:54 am | Posted in air travel, car rental/hire, consumer travel, cruising, travel and technology, value in travel | Leave a comment
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by José Balido

last-minute travel dealsVacationers and business travelers alike are booking travel later in the game than ever these days — often a week or less from departure — with the dicey economy accelerating a trend that’s been building for years. This higher demand for last-minute travel, together with the yield management systems used by many of the big players, means rates that are more than ever in flux up until the 11th hour. It also means that “deals” are no longer a sure thing.

Oh, and did I mention that the currently downsized number of flights and rental cars is also tightening unsold inventory? Sadly, all the above ads up to not a lot of breaks for the last-minute travel shopper.

Best Travel Websites for Last-Minute Deals
The good news: All is not lost. Such breaks do still pop up, because the fact remains that vendors with unsold inventory — whether it’s bundled air-hotel packages or individual components — will always need to unload it. What you’ll need is a spot of patience and perseverance — and willingness to spend a fair bit of time online doing comparisons, because that’s where most of the action is these days. And there are certainly myriad choices, including the likes of LastMinuteTravel.com and last-minute sections of familiar sites like TravelZoo, Travelocity, and Kayak. I’ve found particularly good ones are Lastminute.comHotwire.com, and of course Priceline.com where after checking the going rates on other sites you can try submitting (reasonably!) lower bids.

Apart from trolling these various sites, in the case of airfares especially I’d sign up for alerts, both from individual airlines (United tends to have the largest selection, coming out each Monday, but doesn’t email them anymore, so you have to check United.com) and airfare info sites like AirfareWatchdog.com, which blasts out individual and grouped alerts according to airport or route. For car rentals, some companies list last-minute specials, but check out Breezenet.com as well, a comparison site which also features a “Deal of the Week.” And this summer, excess cruise line capacity will pretty likely mean awesome late deals on certain itineraries — especially in the Caribbean.

Twitter Travel Alerts
Finally, as this blog pointed out last year, Twitter has not only been coming on like gangbusters in general but has increasingly caught with airlines, hotels, tour operators, and other vendors as a dandy way to unload late inventory and for consumers to monitor deals by following them. Just a handful of other airlines that tweet news and fare specials include Air France (@Air_France), American (@AAirwaves), British Airways (@BritishAirways), Cathay Pacific (@cathaypacific), Continental (@Continental), JetBlue (@JetBlueCheeps), Singapore (@SingaporeAir), Southwest (@Southwest), Spirit (@SpiritAirlines), and United (@UnitedAirlines). You can also keep track of fares on sites like AirefareWatchdog.com (@airfarewatchdog), DealsOnAirfareToday.com (@dealsonairfare), and LowestAirfares.com (@LowestAirfares_).

Example: Type “#travel” into the Twitter search box and you’ll come up with hundreds of same-day results. But say you want to go to Orlando. A recent search for “#Orlando #travel” yielded, among many other items:

  • For $289, a three-night stay for four at Silver Lake Resort, plus two adult day tickets to Disney World, Universal Studios, or Sea World (@SLResortOrlando).
  • News of an upcoming crafts and collectibles show in the quaint nearby town of Mount Dora (@roritravel).
  • A list of top free attractions in the Orlando area (@GotSaga).

Crack your knuckles and get surfing!

photo: iStockPhoto
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Have Twitter, Will Travel

June 29, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Posted in travel and technology | 1 Comment
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by David Paul Appell

Microblogging your way to savings?

Microblogging your way to savings?

Lest you write me off as just another glib jumper onto the trendy Twitter bandwagon, let me say that when it comes to newfangled tech trends I’m not exactly what you’d call an “early adopter.” I tend to hold off till something like this really proves itself before spreading my scarce time yet thinner (I didn’t join Facebook till two years ago, for example).

And yes, at first I admit I didn’t “get” Twitter — in fact I found the idea a bit, er, twittish. I’m not so self-absorbed as to be compelled to broadcast my every move and thought to the world, nor do I give a rat’s patootie about following every single bout of Twitterhea from other people, whether friends, acquaintances, or celebs.

But OK, I went ahead and joined the darn thing — mostly because as a writer and new media entrepreneur I thought I just should. And to my mild surprise, the more I was exposed to this wildly popular microblogging service, the more possibilities I began to see. Most consequentially of all, of course, as we’ve seen in recent months and especially this past days in Iran, it’s turned into a spectacular tool wielded against thuggish régimes by democracy-seeking Iranians, Moldovans, and others.

On a far less dramatic and exalted note, one of my main bailiwicks is travel. So naturally I’ve been fascinated to witness Twitter’s potential to can change the way some of us travel, and even significantly affect the travel industry itself.

Just recently, while cooling my heels in a doctor’s office, from my Twitter feed alone I learned, among various other things:

– Where to find English-language bookstores in Berlin (BerlinTourism).

– There’s a $341 round-trip fare available from New York to Los Angeles for July 4 weekend (airfarewatchdog).

– L.A.’s Westin Bonaventure was offering $10 lunch specials in honor of the Lakers NBA championship victory parade (thebonaventure).

Kanin mo ito means “eat this” in Tagalog (TagalogPhrases).

– Guests paying in British pounds can get half-off their room rate through Sunday at San Diego’s Rancho Bernardo Inn (GMGoneMad).

– If you’re heading to Copenhagen expecting to see the harbor’s Little Mermaid statue, do it before next May, because then she’s being shipped off to the Shanghai Expo for eight months. (DenmarkFeelFree).

– A Hard Rock Hotel is opening in Macau (macauusa).

– Pizza Fusion in Fort Lauderdale recently offered one-night only specials such as $5 personal-size pies and a free bottle of wine when ordering any specialty pizza (FloridaEats).

Even that tiny random sampling might start to seem a bit overwhelming, the point is that whatever or wherever you’re interested in, chances are you can find some insight or deal in connection with it — sometimes hot off the presses and for a limited time only. This kind of info can add up to major ka-ching, whether you’re still in the planning stages or you’re already on your trip and looking for a good deal on dinner tonight. We’ve got a more complete and ever-growing list of travel-related tweeters on go-lo’s “Online Corner” group.

Somehow, I have a feeling that Twitter is more than a flash in the pan, and apps will evolve for it that we perhaps don’t even imagine right now. And as ever more tourist boards, airlines, hotels, tour operators, travel agents, and travel media, a service that’s already pretty useful will continue to outdo itself. As much as on the streets of Tehran, in travel, too, the revolution will be tweeted.

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