Joined: 06/17/2014 09:32 PM EDT
Location: Carmel, IN
So for all of you looking to book your travel for this year's Inspection SuperConference in Vegas or the TOP meeting in June or maybe just a family getaway... you've probably noticed the glut of commercials for sites like Trivago and Kayak. When you're watching these commercials, you're probably thinking two things:
1. How are they making money?
2. Where did all the Expedia commercials go?
Well here's the secret- just about every travel site out there is owned by Expedia. And every site that searches all those travel sites (that are owned by Expedia) are also owned by Expedia. Pretty much everything you see is just another way to get you to an Expedia site with no real competition.
So how do you get a great deal on travel? Basically there are two methods, one of which is technically a violation of airline policies (oh well), one of which is a bit of a pain but well worth it- take it from a guy with a $250,000+ travel bill for 2016!
1. SkipLag. This is the thing that is outside of airline policies and it comes with a bit of risk. It's an app/site and what it does is it finds cheap flights that happen to have a layover at your destination...where you simply deplane and leave without getting on the next flight. So let's say to want to fly to Dallas (or some other hub) and American Airlines has a flight to Raleigh that connects through Dallas from wherever home is for you. And they are selling it for cheap (even cheaper than the direct to Dallas that you will be on anyhow). Skiplag finds that flight, you book a one way, and you're good to go! Except there are a couple things to note...
- Don't use your frequent flier mile account. They will penalize you.
- Don't check a bag. It will be in the destination city.
Oh, and let's say there's a delay or a flight cancellation. The airline may rebook you through another connection city and then you end up having to buy another ticket last minute and it will be expensive at that point since they are already dealing with a lack of planes. It will be an expensive day, but it is rare.
2. Go Direct to the Airline/Hotel. Almost always and I mean always booking direct ends up being at or near the same rate- plus you get the benefits of the travel programs. Some airlines won't even allow you to book through Expedia (like SouthWest). Something about a website taking a percentage off the top of every airline ticket, hotel, and rental car just doesn't sit right with some. Miles add up quick too and in no time you are sitting first class on a free flight.
Sometimes Expedia/Orbitz/Trivago/Kayak come in real handy. For one, they do get some exclusive deals at times. They may even be loss leaders...and who needs miles when you are saving $100? For two, outside of those excluded airlines, you can get a quick look at all the options out there (and then go check on the airline sites). If you travel infrequently, and are looking for a bundle including hotel and rental car, Expedia may ultimately offer the best deal.