The summer of 2020 probably wasn’t the break most of us are used to. Air travel was down 85% compared to last year, as we all tried to figure out the best safety measures and how to apply them to our daily lives. The words ‘quarantine’ and ‘isolation’ have been used a lot more than any of us would like. As we move forward, however, an awful lot of us can’t help but yearn for our next getaway. Months of staying home and limiting our interactions with others have just about everyone a little stir crazy at this point.
We’re here to tell you that it’s okay to start thinking about taking a vacation again. You deserve it!
When planning a vacation, most of us have been conditioned to believe that using a third-party online travel agency (OTA) saves us time and money compared to booking directly with airlines, hotels, vacation destinations, and even things to do. It’s human nature to want to get the best deals out there. The truth is that booking direct is almost always the smarter way to go, despite what the OTAs slick ad campaigns will tell you.
“Better Prices” is a Myth
Rate parity rules were put into place in the hotel industry to ensure that prices for the same room were the same no matter where it was sold. You may wonder then why so many OTA ad campaigns scream that they have the best prices? They can all claim that because the price is the same.
We use hotels as an example, but the “better prices” myth pretty much holds across the board for the things you want to book for your vacation.
No Lost Reservations
When you book with an OTA like Trip Advisor, etc., you become their customer, not the customer of whatever entity you end up using. Far too often, information gets lost in translation between the OTA and the final product. Few things are more frustrating to travelers than losing precious vacation time to computer snafus and red-tape delays that can arise when a third party is involved in the process. Booking directly with rental properties, restaurants, tourist attractions, etc. also decreases the sharing of your personal information and limits the access to it.
Personal Relationships Lead to Better Service
Booking directly with an entity forms a relationship with them. As we said above, you’re either the customer of an OTA, or you’re the customer of a specific hotel, airline, restaurant, etc. Now obviously, all service industry entities should treat everyone using their products and services the best that they can. Still, people who book directly have started a relationship that OTA users don’t have, and that relationship will probably lead to better service.
Flexible Terms and Conditions
If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that almost all plans are tentative. Everyone has experienced hiccups in travel plans that have resulted in delayed or canceled trips. With most OTA bookings, you can forget about getting a refund. What’s booked is booked, and good luck trying to explain how your plans were forced to change.
Booking directly brings a little bit of humanity into the equation. You’ll almost certainly be offered more flexibility and understanding by whoever you’ve booked your service with directly. Trust us, most OTA’s customer service departments are a rabbit hole you don’t want to go down. It comes back to relationships. The places you want to visit and the things you want to experience on your trips WANT you as a customer. It’s in their interest to provide you with the best experience possible, and that starts with an understanding that we’re living in a time when plans are written in pencil, not ink.
Benefits of Working With Small Businesses
The economic impact of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come. It’s devastated many industries and changed the way a lot of businesses will operate. We’ve all heard the pleas to “support local businesses,” and the outpouring for many of them has been fantastic. Small and local businesses always need community support, and now more than ever. What you receive for that support is almost always harder work, attention to detail, a more personal touch, and ultimately a better experience.
At Charleston Harbor Tours & Events we hope this finds you and your loved ones healthy and happy. We are thrilled to be open and safely cruising and touring by land and sea and hope that a vacation is in your near future!