More and more, inexpensive flights determine where and when vacationers go
By Misty Harris, Postmedia News
It used to be Canadians would choose a vacation destination, then look for a deal to match. But in the age of new media, the deals are increasingly determining vacationers' destination.
Google reported recently that interest in cheap flights is growing at double the annual rate of the entire air category, based on Canadians' online searches. This dovetails with a recent TripAdvisor survey in which eight in 10 people said they'd take a spontaneous trip this summer if they found a great bargain.
"I like to call it 'opportunity travelling,'" says Chris Myden, founder of Canadian travel deal site YDeals. com. "It's for people who are open to all kinds of destinations, and are willing to build a trip around a deal."
Myden, who's based in Calgary, monitors airfare sales "constantly" and is more conservative than rival sites in terms of what he posts.
In most cases, he says he only advertises discounts that are 30 to 50 per cent below the rock-bottom price of a normal fare.
"There are so many companies out there trying to tell you there are great deals all the time," says Myden. "But the truly great ones don't come around very often."
Even so, the shift is turning the vacation paradigm on its head, with airlines routinely matching each other's best rates to compete for bottom-line-driven travellers.
For instance, when the Dutch airline KLM recently announced flights to Turkey for half the usual fare, Air France, Austrian Airlines, Delta, Lufthansa and United all followed suit.
Among those who jumped on the deal was Vancouver's Jillian Walker, a 28-year-old human resources consultant who expertly leverages new media to travel on the cheap.
"Until I was about 25, my approach was the same as my parents': pick a place and then save for it. Now I do the opposite," says Walker, whose travel bank account allows her to jump on bargains when they come along.
"I went to Belize in 2011, which is somewhere I wouldn't have other-wise picked. I'm going to Istanbul this fall because of a deal. I went to Costa Rica because of a deal ... "
Walker uses social media, as well as websites such as YDeals, Kayak, Vayama and Expedia, to flush out the best bargains to be had through-out the year.
She takes roughly five trips annually, almost always allowing the deal to determine the destination.
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