The Cheapest Flight Guaranteed
The online travel industry has boomed since the early 2000’s, meaning there is a lot more competition and that more travellers are booking online.
This means a lot less overheads for the online merchants meaning that they can afford to cut prices, opening up a cheaper travel market for everyone.
To combat this many of the brick and mortar travel agencies, as well as some of the bigger more staffed online travel agencies have had to create new ways of retaining their customers and getting people to book with them each and every time.
One of the most common ways to retain customers is by offering a price guarantee or price match. Other ways include monthly competitions and other rewards by using them to book your travel.
A price beat simply means to give a better price than what their potential customers had found elsewhere. A price match is just matching the price… the difference being the customer service and being able to make use of a travel agent at the same price as the online merchants.
One of the newer policies for this is to beat the fare by say $1 or so and then give the passenger a $50 voucher that they can use for their next trip. This means that you will come back to that company for your next trip.
You’re probably wondering how these travel agencies make any money if their price is higher but they are dropping their prices to beat the competition.
Not only does the travel agent get a commission on the booking itself, but if the agency, in large hits their monthly or yearly targets then the company gets a kick back from their third parties such as from airlines and wholesalers, which helps to cover the losses.
What you need to remember is that first chunk to come off is the agent’s commission meaning their prices are originally marked higher so the company can pay their travel agents.
The second thing to come off is the retail pricing. Travel agencies get a whole sale rate and usually have a recommended price to sell the fare at. It would be very rare for another agency or even airlines directly to sell a flight under its wholesale price, but it is possible for them to reduce the retail price.
Therefore the travel agencies most likely haven’t lost anything but the excess commission. The agent then gets a small set booking fee from head office so that they aren’t losing everything.
Sometimes passengers may find a fare that is under the wholesale price and this is when the price beating or matching travel agencies start questioning the airlines about how the competition was able to get that price.
Do be careful of these sites and/or agencies as often they are made up quotes by the competition in order to get you to make a deposit… then when you pay in full the price magically goes up.
As the travel agent is losing their commission they need to find other ways to make something on the booking. Be that a hotel, airport transfer, travel insurance etc.
What many people don’t know is that you can often also price beat the travel agent on these parts of your trip as well.
So how does a price beat or price match work?
The passenger basically does most if not all of the work. You as a customer need to find a price on your travel either online or from a competitor agency. But like with everything, there are terms and conditions.
These terms and conditions vary from agency to agency but there are some general basics which you should be aware of.
More often than not the cheapest quote that you will find is online and if you were to book that flight, you would need to pay in full at the time of making the booking online.
So for the majority of price beats and matches payment at an agency, they too will require the full payment, just like you would have paid if you booked that online quote.
Travel agencies have the benefit of holding tentative seats on a flight usually needing full payment after a week or so. But if you are going to price beat that agent then you need to be prepared to pay in full in order to get the price you want.
This is a pretty common rule in the terms and conditions of most price beats or match policies. Simply because that’s what you would have to do if you booked it online.
Second to the above rule, the quote you obtain from the competition must also be on the same day you do the price beat or match.
This is because flight prices can change at any moment thanks to the supply and demand method. You may get a quote online at home at 9am but by the time you get to the next travel agent, more seats have sold and therefore the fare has gone up in price already.
To get the best result, the closer to the time of quote and the time you go to price beat or match the better. This is also part of the reason why you need to pay in full that day.
Even if you give an agent a deposit to hold seats it never secures the price. Only when you have paid in full has the price been set in stone.
The other common rule between most of the agencies offering price guarantees is that the quote you got is what the agent will guarantee in price.
We used to call this ‘apples for apples’ in my former agency.To give you an example of apples with apples, you may find a quote that is the exact dates you want but the cheapest flight leaves at 9am. You can see online that there is a 12 flight which is what you prefer, however it is higher priced.
When you go to the travel agent to beat or match that 9am price, it means you can only get the price guarantee on that 9am flight for that same price. If you want that 12pm flight, then they can certainly price match for you, however it will be based off the price of the 12pm flight.
You would be surprised at how many people try to force the travel agent to match a price they found on a different time, date or even airline. If the details don’t match then there is no price guarantee.
Any variation to this means you need a new quote for that specific flight or travel.
You cannot change dates and times unless you have a quote for that too.
So the best practice is to get a quote on exactly what you want and head straight down to the travel agent without delay. Be ready to pay full and you won’t miss out on that best price.
But why use a travel agent at all if you can find the right price online which is already the lowest cost?