Tips and tricks for scoring the best Black Friday travel deals
If you’re dreaming of a bargain holiday, Black Friday could be your lucky day.
Marking the start of the Christmas shopping season in the US since 1952, Black Friday has also taken off in many other countries, including New Zealand.
It’s a massive deal in the US where more than 154 million shoppers hit stores in the real and digital realms, spending US$3.3 billion (NZ$4.8bn) online alone, according to Adobe, which tracked data across 100 of the biggest retailers.
Travel deals feature heavily so it’s a great time to land cheaps flights, accommodation and holiday packages.
* Why you should still be using a travel agent
* Finding the cheapest time to fly
* Why going budget travel has advantages beyond price
Some companies offer deals on Black Friday only, which falls on November 23 this year, while others offer them until Cyber Monday on November 26, also a big day for sales in the US. Cyber Monday is the biggest day for travel discounts in the US, so it may pay to hang out for then if you’re after cut-price hotel deals stateside or cheap fares with US airlines.
Many travel companies keep their discounts quiet until the big day, but some give you an idea of what to expect.
Online booking agent Expedia, for one, is offering up to 50 per cent off selected hotels in New Zealand and overseas on Black Friday, as well as hotel and package coupons.
Flight Centre NZ general manager retail, Sue Matson, said the travel agency would offer some “sepctacular” deals on airfares, accommodation, cruises, tours and more on Black Friday, as well as on the weekend, making this “the perfect time for Kiwis to lock in not one, but two or three holidays for 2019.”
There are a number of top deals to numerous destinations around the world. Some of the stand out offers include return flights to Hawaii for $699, Tokyo for $739, and Rarotonga for $499. Various other popular destinations – including the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia – will also be on sale. As Flight Centre offers a lowest airfare guarantee, if you spot a cheaper airfare elsewhere, you can ask them to better it.
If a cruise is your ideal holiday, then you won’t be disappointed. A number of the top cruise lines are also taking part in the Black Friday madness and offering three days of deals. Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas is offering cruise-lovers up to 50 per cent off their second guest, plus a deluxe beverage package, while Celebrity Cruises is offering savings up to $800 and free drinks and Wi-Fi aboard the Celebrity Infinity.
For those more interested in tours, Intrepid Travel is offering up to 30 per cent off more than 1000 land and sailing trips internationally. While 30 per cent might not sound like a lot, if you’re planning a big trip, it can translate to thousands of dollars in savings. For example, the Ultimate Galapagos sailing tour is on sale from $5258 with a saving of $2253, and the South East Asia Loop land tour is reduced by $1323 to $3972.
Intrepid Travel is also offering travellers who book together a ‘buy on get one free’ deal on select Asia Adventure Cruising itineraries between December and January. This amounts to some incredible savings of $8215 on the 15-day cruise of Thailand and Malaysia and $4450 on the eight-day cruise. The travel company’s Cyber Sale will run for one week from November 23 to November 30, giving you more than enough time to secure a deal for an unforgettable holiday.
TIPS FOR GETTING THE BEST DEALS
Decide where you want to go and when before the big day so you don’t waste time aimlessly trawling websites. Do your homework on cost so you can easily tell the good deals from the not-so-good. Signing up for email alerts or other notifications from sites offering deals that appeal to you is also wise.
If you don’t have time for online research, booking via a travel agent may be the way to go. Tell them what you’re looking for before Friday and they’ll be able to hook you up with the best deals as soon as they become available. Travel agents also have access to deals not available to the general public and can offer general information on the best value way of getting to and from a destination.
Be flexible with your dates
The best deals are often during less popular travel periods such as mid-week and during term time. Travelling during the shoulder season for a destination is often a great (and great value way to go). Holidaying in the Greek islands in June, for example, is much more affordable than in the peak season of July and August and the weather is often just as good, Matson said.
The cheapest deals often sell out quickly, so if you’re sure you’ve spotted a great deal, trust your instincts and nab it. Don’t expect to be able to cancel it if you change your mind though as deals typically come with strict refund policies.
Choose your entry and departure points carefully
If you’re heading overseas, it can cost more to fly out of a regional airport than from a major centre. If you’re within driving distance of a major airport, it’s worthwhile comparing prices.
Choosing your entry point to a destination wisely is also important. It’s often cheaper to fly into a less popular port and catch alternative transport from there. If you’re headed to the Gold Coast, for example, you can save money by flying into Brisbane and taking a coach to the coast.
In Europe, flying out of a city with lower taxes can save you big bucks, Matson said. London’s airports have some of the highest taxes in the region so, if you’re looking to save money, leaving from Paris could be a better option.
“The airport tax is far less and the overall price of your ticket, even with the inclusion of a cheap one-way Eurostar journey from London to Paris, will be less that a return flight departing from London.”
Consider on-the-gound costs
Choosing a destination that is off the beaten track and relatively cheap to get around will leave you with more spending money when you get there.
“It’s not always about choosing the cheapest airfare, picking a destination where the cost of living is low and the New Zealand dollar is strong might mean that although you spend more getting there your dollar will go further,” Matson said.
In Asia, Japan and Malaysia are among the best value destinations for Kiwis to travel to right now, according to the Expedia Currency Monitor, which measures the performance of the New Zealand dollar against global currencies.
The Kiwi dollar has strengthened 16 per cent against the Japanese yen year-on-year, while flights from New Zealand to Japan have dropped by almost 20 per cent, the booking agent said.
Malaysia is also offering Kiwis a cheaper deal, with the New Zealand dollar appreciating 12 per cent against the Malaysian ringgit year-on-year and flights decreasing in price by almost 20 per cent.
Sri Lanka, Singapore and China were also found to represent exceptional value for Kiwis.
In Europe, the UK represents good value, with the New Zealand dollar gaining ground against the British pound and average daily hotel rates down by five per cent. The average flight price, however, was up by five per cent year-on-year.
Airfares to Ireland, Italy and Germany have dropped between 10 and 15 per cent year-on-year, making them among the more affordable European destinations for Kiwis.
The New Zealand dollar has also strengthened agains the US and Canadian dollars, however average fares to both destinations are unchanged from a year ago and the average daily hotel rates have increased (by five per cent in the US and 15 per cent in Canada).
In South America, Brazil represents good value for money as the Kiwi dollar has strengthened 10 per cent against the Brazilian real year-on-year. While flights to Brazil have gone up 10 per cent on average, hotel rooms have come down by 25 per cent.
Are you hoping to get a good deal this Friday? Which destinations are on your list? Let us know in the comments.