When they say exclusive, sometimes they actually mean it…
If you comparison shop for hotels on the internet, you’ll undoubtedly see some very bold claims. Enticing pitches like: “Members only rates”, “exclusive offers” and “flash sales” tempt in even the savviest travel bookers, but the truth is even members only rates may not be the cheapest. Travel agents are the most overlooked insider tip in 2018, in part because they gain access to rates the general public never see, from suppliers you’ve never heard of and depending on where you’re going – the rates can save $100’s per night, or more. In fact, it happened to us just this week…
If you know someone with a boutique ice cream stand, and your referrals help sell 10,000 tubs a year – there’s a fair chance that the boutique ice cream stand is going to give you a special rate. It makes a lot of sense, and it’s the same for hotels and travel agents which are part of powerful agencies. Online travel agencies make money acting as the middle man, but if you can cut out the middle man, especially one with directly negotiated rates, based on the huge volume of rooms they sell, you can win big time.
Langkawi is a must visit destination, and just a mere 25 minute, $30 round trip flight away from most of Malaysia. It’s insanely beautiful. One big guest favorite on the island is the Andaman, A Luxury Collection Hotel (pictured above). If you look online, you’ll be hard pressed to find rooms from any travel booking site under £250 or $325 per night, but one of our favorite travel agents, Adam Corin from Travel Counsellors didn’t just beat the rate – he blew it out of the water. Instead of rates well over £1000 for a 4 night stay with taxes figured in, we locked in 4 nights for a total of £296, including breakfast. That’s a savings of $1000 on just 4 nights, and almost identical to standard costs for one night!
We asked Adam how this sort of thing is possible, and he supplied another example for a popular hotel in Southeast Asia, where the best rate the client could find online, without breakfast, came to £165 ($225) per night for a seven night stay, but he was able to secure a rate of £292 all in for the seven night stay. That’s seven nights for the cost of two, if you booked elsewhere. In asking other travel agents, we found this was actually fairly common. Another popular agent familiar to GSTP deals in Africa hotels and safaris, and is able to secure sought after rooms for about 1/3 the price the public would find online. Why? It’s all about bulk, direct booking and access to great clients.
If you’ve ever been searching for a hotel and noticed that every booking company offered the same price, but one was wildly lower, there’s a fair chance that the booking site offering that lower price decided to make the rare decision to sell a room at a rate closer to cost, or at least lower their attractive margins based on a good direct supplier rate. Moral of the story: some travel deals aren’t too good to be true. Naturally, these crazy savings margins can’t be expected on every travel agent booking, at every property around the world, but it’s a compelling reason to at least ping a good travel agent before pressing “book”.
Ever heard the rumor that the biggest companies pay a fraction of what the general public pays for business class tickets? It’s true, because they can guarantee about 10,000 bookings per year in advance. You could probably get a discount too if you were doing that kinda business! Hotels work out direct contract rates for their best suppliers, and travelers who can find travel agents with direct contract rates generally save big. Even when direct contract rates aren’t available, agents have access to “bed banks” which sell rooms and inventory to people in the travel trade only, and therefore they’re able to procure rates that never show up online. Cut out the middle man, win.
And in case you’re looking for Adam’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We have no financial relationship with him or Travel Counsellors, other than booking (some) or our travel through him!