Budget Travel and Hotel Considerations – Travel Industry Making Changes To Compete For Consumers

If you are like most Americans, you having difficulty saving money while prices are rapidly increasing; things like college tuition, food and fuel. So, when it comes to traveling you are looking to shave off costs and find ways to travel on a budget, and well, no one can blame you for that. What you may not be aware of or have not considered is that in the travel business; everything from airlines and rent-a-cars to tourist destinations and hotels are trying to find better ways to accommodate the budget traveler.

For instance, many airlines have had their fuel prices boosted to record costs and many family budget and business travel hotels are making changes in management and in their operations. Recently, Choice Hotels named a new COO and President; Stephen P. Joyce, 48. Additionally they named a new Executive VP of Global Branding. Why, because they know that they must hold their American clientele and find ways to cut costs, while still attracting their overseas travelers who are paying in high valued currencies.

There are many ways to cut costs in traveling and staying on a budget and hotels, rental car agencies and airlines are working very hard to compete for fewer travelers with fewer dollars, while still retaining a profit. Easier said than done, especially when jet fuel has almost tripled in cost since 2000 and recently the number of families traveling on vacation is being cut by a good 35% this summer, all due to cash strapped consumers, credit crisis and outrageous fuel costs. Airline Industry analysts are predicting one or maybe two major airlines filing bankruptcy in 2009 and some hotel chains have pulled back construction of new hotels in many locations.

Four Rules to Save on Travel and Cruise

Ah, it is the time of the year when you start looking for your next vacation destination and book for flights and hotels or cruise. And there is no better way to begin your search than looking for ways to save on your trip. Now, you may already be aware that the cost of a vacation doesn’t entirely depend on your destination. Partly, it is in the way of searching and bargain hunting that will determine how much you will spend on your vacation. Here are four most expensive aspects in your vacation and how you can save on them.

Airfare

Assuming you have selected your destination, don’t book at the most popular airline yet. Check each airline that makes flight to that destination. Budget airlines may not always appeal to you, but they provide excellent discount of up to 40%-70% compared to regular and more established airlines. It’s good to search online and get familiarized with the going rate of each airline. Watch out for special offers and last minute deals that are sources of some very nice bargains. Book early – there are airlines that sell flights at great discounts of you book three to nine months in advance. So if you have plans to travel in the near future, start your bargain hunt as early as now.

Hotels

The best way to save on a hotel is to schedule your trip during the off season when hotels rates are much lower. But should you decide to go when everyone else goes, it is important to learn the following tips:

1. Go online and visit travel websites. They provide comprehensive list of hotels and offer great discounts, especially if you are traveling to a high demand tourist destination
2. Integrate your hotel with a flight or as part of the tour package. Here, you will be paying for a 5-start hotel at a 3-star price
3. Staying for at least two nights at the same hotel will save you money on booking fee
4. Coupons will also help you get discount
5. If you are a travel club card or time share, it is a great time to use it

Cruise Line

Cruises do not normally offer great discounts as often as airlines do, but it also pays to check online and watch out for deals. On board a cruise, it is tempting to splurge on a little luxury, but like all the other luxuries, there are things you often can live without. Example, soda and coffee have a hefty price tag on a cruise. Skip the spa as well – you can do that at home. Skip the casino too. Bring everything you need so that you avoid shopping on board. Stores near the pier are designed for tourists hence, they can be very expensive. But shore excursions are much cheaper at pier agents than the cruise-arranged. Or, if you know the itinerary of the excursions, research online beforehand and learn how to get there. It will save you a lot.

Destination

Picking your destination is as crucial as picking your travel dates. The least crowded the destination is, the least it will cost. Alaskan Cruise from May to September is usually cheaper while Caribbean Cruise in January and February can be cheaper.

Dynamic Packaging for Travel and Hospitality Industry

The concept of Dynamic Packaging is to bundle all the components chosen by the aspiring traveler and create one reservation. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer.

To a traveler, there is nothing better than a one stop shop for his traveling needs. The Dynamic Packaging Engine uses a travel component inventory and prices. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer. It automatically applies rules defined by the suppliers and the travel marketer to build and price travel packages. This package configuration process determines which components are used, what combinations of components are allowed or required, and handles inclusions such as taxes, fees or additional package features. Rules also determine how the final retail price is computed.

CAPABILITIES

A typical dynamic packaging application will need the following capabilities:

1. Search and Availability

2. Memberships

3. Shopping Cart

4. Booking and Reservations

5. Payments

6. Cancellations

SEARCH AND AVAILABILITY

A traveler always seeks a destination. Even though he may well be aware of where he needs to go to, he will search for the most appropriate place to stay and enjoy his visit. The search starts with a Transportation and Travel components, Hotel Property, Leisure Components. The search therefore has to be divided geographically to include destinations and neighboring destinations that meet the search criteria. An example search could be travel to New York City, stay at Stamford, Connecticut, Golf at upstate New York. Clearly the Dynamic Packaging engine needs to know the dates of travel, from and to destinations, closest airport to hotel, rental car or other desired ground transportation from selected airport to hotel and access to tee times at the neighboring golf courses. Like the traveler, businesses also seek travel related information.

Travel Agents, Call Centers, and Meeting Planners need packaged information on behalf of their clients. Such a search is riddled with rules and complexity. Besides, the customer needs to have choices that can vary from comfort to price and everything else in between.

1. Proximity: The search uses parameters that can narrow down possibilities yet offer extended possibilities. In our search example, Westchester Airport would have been the best choice. La Guardia airport would be an ideal choice. JFK and Newark and Teterboro are the next choices from a distance to Hotel point of view.

2. Fare and Rates: The traveler will look for the best fare. In our example though Westchester is close to the hotel, offers limited Airlines and perhaps not the best fares. Some fares maybe very attractive, however when it comes to flexibility and cancellation they are not the best. Flexibility of change, penalties associated with change and cancellation are important factors to include in the search results.

3. Travel Times: That’s another important factor for the business traveler. How many flights are there to the airport and at what intervals. Check in times and total time to travel also helps in determining his choice. Therefore non-connecting and connecting flights with layover times need to figure in the search.

4. Accessibility: Another key factor often not paid attention to is accessibility. Physically impaired travelers, people who need meals on a flight, wheelchair access, and quick access to rental cars or trains or ground transportation play a very important role in travel. Do the hotel(s) have wheelchair access? Is it possible to get ground transportation to destined hotel that has wheelchair access?

5. Amenities: Does the hotel offer standard amenities like restaurants, swimming pool, health parlors, spa, fax and printing, broadband Internet access etc? Similarly does the rental car come with GPS, insurance, inter state travel? Does the Golf Course allow only cart access? Are ski rentals available near the resort? The inclusion of amenities in a search result ensures the traveler is not in for surprises at the first lap of travel.

6. Prepackaged: You want to travel, stay in a semi luxury hotel, play golf, why search for each individually. A prepackaged deal would also be more attractive than customizing the travel. Perhaps cheaper.

Travel should be far from being hostile. It is after all a home away from home. A home is a pivotal source for living and entertainment. One uses the home and its peripheral surroundings to make the best of living. The travel destinations and the mode of travel should be as non hostile and as hospitable as is possible. A dynamic packaging should offer a wealth of choices to the traveler yet not inundate the traveler with so much information that he/she is nervous wreck at the end of an itinerary creation.

ACTORS

From the above description one can determine who the obvious actors are in this case.

1. The Traveler

2. GDS (Airlines and Hotels Rate Distribution)

3. Airlines

4. Car Rental Companies

5. Hotel Central Reservation

6. Tour Operators (Buses, Ground Transportation)

7. Proprietary Aggregators (like Golf, Ski etc.)

MORE ACTORS

The Dynamic Packaging should be capable of extending the services for business-to business operations. Which would imply that our actors now are?

8. Travel Agents and Meeting Planners

9. Call Center Agents.

SHOPPING CART

The key item in dynamic packaging is the Shopping Cart. The results of search can be selected and added as line items in the shopping cart. It bundles all the components chosen by the traveler to create one reservation. This shopping cart based vacation builder allows comparison shopping of packages that can include plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, insurance, attraction tickets and other features. Regardless of where the inventory originates, the package that is created is handled seamlessly as one transaction, and requires only one payment from the consumer. It automatically applies rules defined by the suppliers and the travel marketer to build and price travel packages. This package configuration process determines which components are used, what combinations of components are allowed or required, and handles inclusions such as taxes, fees or additional package features.