Since returning from Fiji a few days ago I’ve been asked if I can beat a number of deals including Groupon, Expedia and Kayak and in each case Totem Travel’s normal package pricing was lower than the perceived deal. This was good news for my clients that were up front enough to ask, but I suspect many bargain hunters simply assume that Groupon deals and online travel agencies are offering deep discounts when in reality they are charging more.
The one that troubled me most was the Online Travel Agency that offered the St Regis Bora Bora for $850 night or $853 night “including tax”. As a Tahiti honeymoon specialist I know the real tax rate is 14% and that’s before all the other “extras” collected at check out, long after the reservation is made and way too late to make a different purchase decision. The bottom line for my particular customer was an undisclosed $1011 for a 7 night stay. Yikes! Another was the groupon deal that encouraged clients to buy a package at Toberua, a lovely little island resort in Fiji, for $2079. That deal excluded the 20% VAT tax while my everday price for the same Toberua Resort package is $1810 including tax so almost $700 less.
So BUYER BEWARE and do yourself and your travel agent a favor and work together in good faith. A good travel agent guarantees the lowest price on their packages (we do) but can only deliver on that promise if there is open, honest communication. A professional travel agent is on your side with the goal of finding best possible vacation experience at the lowest possible price. So go team and thanks to all my wonderful clients that understand the value of collaboration!