Globetrottters can pack up vacation deals
Black Friday and its digital counterpart, Cyber Monday, don’t inspire frenzied purchasing for all consumers.
For those not inspired by the promise of deeply discounted TVs and doorcrasher giveaways, there’s another, less explored category of deal that may hold more appeal: travel.
The shopping bonanza has become a popular time to hunt for discounted travel. According to travel metasearch engine Kayak, flight searches made on Cyber Monday from Toronto have increased by more than 20 per cent in the last two years.
While flights and hotels might not enjoy the same price slashing as tech products or apparel, experts say there are deals to be had, if you know where and what to look for.
Here’s the advice that Steve Sintra, country manager, Canada, at Kayak, and Chris Myden, the Calgary-based founder of deal-sharing newsletter YYZ Deals, have for those with travel on their shopping lists.
Narrow your search
Before you start deal-hunting, remember: flight prices can only dip so low. In 2016, Kayak found Black Friday prices were relatively stagnant, then decreased by 7 per cent on Cyber Monday. As Myden points out, “the reality is that the way airfares work and the kind of product they are, there’s not a huge profit margin on them.”
For more noteworthy savings, try other types of travel. “If you’ve been on the hunt for a vacation or cruise package, Black Friday will be your best bet. We typically see a lot of vacation package providers participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals,” says Sintra says.
As for flights, Sintra points to specific destinations as a potential savings hot spot during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“Last year, we saw flight prices on Black Friday drop more than 15 per cent to the Caribbean and 12 per cent to Asia, which may happen again this year.
“So, if either of those spots are on your bucket list, you’ll want to consider focusing your search there.”
Myden echoes Sintra’s thoughts on vacation packages. “Sometimes there’s some good deals on all-inclusive packages. Some of the Canadian tour operators may hold off on posting a sale until Black Friday.”
Don’t expect to save on holiday-timed travel
Discounts on flights for the Christmas season are rare, if not non-existent. Black Friday won’t be any different. Flights taking off in January might hold more promise; as post-holiday demand tapers off, airlines may offer seat sales.
“Christmas is almost impossible,” Myden says. “As someone who’s watched millions and millions of promotions for airfares over the years, I can count on one hand the number of great deals that have actually occurred for travel during Christmas. There’s so much demand that the airlines never really feel the need to discount their airfares much.”
If you were counting on buying your ticket home during the shopping bonanza, don’t fret.
“We’ve found that flight prices for holiday travel within Canada actually decrease at the beginning of November and remain relatively stagnant throughout the holidays, so you still have some time to book an affordable flight home,” Sintra says.
Just avoid booking a flight on Dec. 22; Kayak data shows it’s the most expensive day in the winter season for both domestic and international travel.
Do your homework
Just because it looks like a deal, doesn’t mean it’s a deal.
To avoid shelling out for a price masquerading as a discount, pre-shopping research is required.
Know typical price ranges for your desired destination and dates.
“Don’t automatically assume a deal is a great one just because an airline or travel site claims it’s a Black Friday deal,” Myden warns.
“You have to be aware of what a good price usually is and use that to determine whether it’s a good deal or not.”
Deals often also come with drawbacks that could leave the unaware buyer stuck with a ticket they can’t use. Pay attention to baggage policies and rules regarding flight changes and refunds.
“If you do end up booking a Black Friday or Cyber Monday travel deal,” says Sintra, “make sure to read the fine print. Many of the travel deals are non-refundable, so be aware of the cancellation policies before you book.”
Edited on 6 December 2017