MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Labor Day has passed but MEA will be here before you know it. If you’re planning your next trip, there are important tips to keep in mind whether traveling by car, air, boat, or staying in a hotel. A travel expert explained the phone can be your friend.
It’s easy to jump online and book a flight, or check hotel availability. There’s an app for that.
“When you do that you’re disenfranchising yourself from a lot of opportunity because only about 52 percent of the available inventory is actually online. The airlines, the hotels, the cruise lines, they hold back,” CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg said.
Greenberg said doing things the old fashioned way can go a long way. Pick up the phone and have a conversation with a travel provider.
“An unsold hotel room or a cruise ship birth or an airline seat is revenue they will never recoup once the sun rises or the ship sails, so you need to have a conversation but the way you have a conversation makes a difference,” Greenberg said.
He suggests asking agents to look at every published fare they have. Then ask them to go to the bottom of the list with airfare and go from there.
“That way you start picking the fare that you want as opposed to stepping up to the fare that they want,” Greenberg said.
And he said there’s no longer a magic day of the week to book. But do book 45 days in advance for the best price. With hotels ask for incentives beyond the room rate.
“Will you throw in free parking, can my kids stay free, can my kids eat free, will you get rid of that dreaded resort fee,” Greenberg said.
And when booking an all-inclusive Greenberg said to be sure to read the fine print.
“What the asterisk is in the travel industry is an acknowledgement that they’re about to lie to you because it’s going to tell you all the things that are suddenly not included. So once again have a conversation before you ever book an all-inclusive so you get to a mutually agreeable definition of terms as to what all-inclusive really means,” Greenberg said.
When it comes to travel, Greenberg calls the price the starting point.
“Everything is negotiable and if you don’t ask you don’t get,” Greenberg said.
If you’re looking for a more authentic experience once you get where you’re going, Greenberg said Airbnb and VRBO can be a nice, most cost-effective alternative to a two or three star hotel. Similarly a hotel with that rating may be more apt to giving a deal.