Thanksgiving 2017 is looking to be bigger than ever and not just because of the excess traffic on the roads.
Experts are predicting huge flash travel sales for Cyber Monday and Travel Deal Tuesday this year, with some companies kicking off the deals as early as Black Friday.
And while the shopping bonanza seems to be getting bigger every year, that doesn’t guarantee you a deal. Here’s how to keep a cool head and snag that Italian vacation you always wanted, for half the price.
Do your research beforehand
Most Cyber Monday travel deals come with fine print, so know what you want, and the value of it, before you get tricked by marketing schemes. Don’t fall prey to tactics that offer 20, 30 or 40 percent savings on a flight to Hawaii…when you really wanted to go to the Alps.
“The window to score travel deals around Black Friday and Cyber Monday is getting bigger year after year,” says Todd Dunlap, Managing Director of the Americas for Booking.com. But, he continues, it still is important to do your homework so you can tell the different between a real bargain and a scheme.
Last year, overall online retail spending on Cyber Monday doubled to 107% of the November daily average, accordingto a Bank of America report. With all those deals flying around, it can be easy to lose your head if you’re not prepared.
“Research existing deals…Cyber Monday specials may only offer average savings and have more restrictions,” agrees Elizabeth Avery, founder of Solo Trekker 4 U. A veteran of the tour operator industry, Avery says that oftentimes off-season travel is already discounted 50%. A Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday “deal” will offer the same discount, but with more restrictions.
Travel Deal Tuesday 2018 promises huge airfare flash sales
Experts predict that airfare sales will kick off on Black Friday, but then continue throughout the week, with some of the biggest savings after Cyber Monday.
“Fare sales spike significantly the Tuesday after Thanksgiving,” said Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper, after analyzing billions of flight prices over the past few years. “Last year, we observed more than double the normal fare sale activity on Travel Deal Tuesday, and in 2015, we saw fare sale activity spike by six times the normal volume [in flash sales].”
Although most vacationers have already booked their holiday airfare by Thanksgiving 2017, consider using the flash sales to snag great airfare for a winter Caribbean getaway or a flight to an aspirational destination like Fiji or Morocco.
Set up price alerts
Use a flight monitoring systems like Hopper’s Flex Watchor KAYAK’s Price Alert. I am also a fan of the old school Airfarewatchdog email. Set the alert now so you don’t have to worry about missing the deal.
Some platforms, like Priceline, will be kicking off their travel deals on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through Friday, November 24. If you’ve done your research beforehand, you’ll know when to pounce on rock bottom prices.
Sign up for email newsletters
Many companies will offer discounts to their trusted members first. Since travel groups and hotels are often only unloading extra inventory with these flash sales, the sooner you know about a deal, the better.
Try “subscribing to newsletters for sites like Hotels.com, Orbitz, and Expedia before Cyber Monday, in case the promotions are tied to newsletter accounts only. You can always unsubscribe after,” says Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing with DealNews. But she says, “be prepared to book a trip that day. Most offers won’t last beyond.”
Spend some time now to subscribe to your favorite travel companies – whether it is a bigger aggregate, a regional airline or a cruise ship operator.
Book your rental car way in advance
If you’re planning a road trip in 2018 and you’ll need a rental car, consider booking it on Cyber Monday or Travel Tuesday. I did this last year for a trip in Oregon, and saved 30% on the overall price.
Many of rental companies will offering flash sales. Either way, booking a car in advance usuall leads to savings, according to Hertz. They recommend booking a car at the same time, if not before, your other reservations like airfare or hotel.
Get specific with your hotel wish list
According to Hotel Engine, 27% more people book on Cyber Monday than any other day of the year.
Do your research beforehand to know which properties to monitor. Although many hotel chains are owned by the same parent corporations, it is much easier to track a specific hotel at a specific location rather than the entire conglomerate. If you only follow the larger parent company, you might miss their tweet about their Bora Bora property.
The devil is in the details
It’s also important to pay attention to the details – like flight departure times and length of layovers. Since nearly all Cyber Monday travel deals are binding, you don’t want to realize too late that your flight leaves at 1:00 a.m. rather than 1:00 p.m.
“Like going to the grocery store hungry, not having thought about where you want to travel might lead you to purchase a trip you can’t feasibly plan,” says Joe Ponte, general manager at Topdeck, a group travel organizer. “A deal might sound amazing at first glance, until you realize that it only applies to red eye flights or smack in the middle of the week stays.”
If you’re hoping to snag a travel package during Cyber Monday and you’re single, make extra sure to read the fine print. Many tour operators charge double for individual travelers, says Avery, founder of Solo Trekker 4 U.