Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, right? Wrong. When travellers book a holiday online, great deals like these are only a mouse click away. By Tiana Templeman.
Checking hotel and airline websites multiple times a day isn’t compulsive behaviour, just smart. What’s known in the industry as “dynamic pricing” sees rooms, flights and even some package holidays cost more when there’s significant demand and less when there’s not. If a flight or hotel is half empty, prices can drop to rock bottom at a moment’s notice on the whim of a yield manager. And then there’s “dynamic packaging”, an even more excitingly-named industry trend that big-name companies like Zuji.com.au are turning to more and more in order to attract deal-hungry customers (like you!) who wish to design their own highly flexible room/flight/car/dining itineraries at competitive rates.
Timing can also be everything when it comes to flights. Log on to www.virginblue.com.au any day of the week from AEST 12-1pm for Virgin Blue Happy Hour and rock bottom fares. You can’t pick your destination but this dynamic pricing lucky dip offers amazing deals. And it usually pays to fly midweek for the cheapest flights.
Insider Tip: If you’re worried about making transactions over the internet, have a hacker-free holiday by ensuring payments are more secure. Each time you purchase travel online, look for a URL that begins with https:// (for a more secure server), instead of just http://.
DRIVING A HARD BARGAIN
Major car hire companies offer online booking, but it’s also possible to check all their rates at once. Enter your dates on a dedicated website and a search engine brings up the best deal with each supplier. Try Vroomvroomvroom (www.vroomvroomvroom.com.au) or DriveNow (www.drivenow.com.au) for car rental deals with leading agencies in a one-stop-shop format.
Insider Tip: Check individual hire company websites for special offers such as one-day free rental and complimentary upgrades.
Amusement parks, tourist sites and restaurants around Australia offer online coupons that can knock hundreds off your next holiday. Start by checking the website of the attraction you want to visit. If you don’t have any luck there, search online for coupons. I quickly found vouchers for $20 off accommodation, complimentary coffee and more buy-one-get-one-free meals than I could poke a fork at.
Insider Tip: Visit www.hotdockets.com.au for instant gratification.
WHEN TO INSURE
When hiring a car, people love to save money by declining the extra insurance. AT can’t discourage this behaviour enough – but there’s an even more sensible way to go. More often than not, it actually makes far more sense to forgo the car insurance and take out your own travel insurance instead. For example, say you need a car for a week to explore Margaret River. Standard Premium Cover will set you back around $25 a day, for a total of $175. But a quick visit to TravelInsurance.com.au reveals that a domestic policy for the same period for a solo traveller costs just $59, and includes everything from accidental death to loss of luggage to (the kicker) rental vehicle excess. Heck, some policies even cover injury via snow sports or ski run closure – unlikely in Margaret River, but you get the picture.
It’s also worth noting that many credit cards are inclusive of their own comprehensive travel insurance, but be sure to check the fine print closely to see if you’re covered. For some, like the high-end Amex Platinum, simply being a member is enough. For others, you must actually use that specific credit card to purchase the entire trip for the cover to kick in. Still, for peace of mind it’s worth considering.