Is a Vacation Package Really a Discount?

You want to go on vacation and you want to get a discount. Sites all over the internet offer discount vacation packages, but are they really a discount? Well, we have done some research to try and figure out the answer. After reading this article, you will have a better understanding of discount vacation packages and where the best places are to find them.

Discount Vacation Package – An Analysis

For the purpose of this analysis we are defining a “vacation package” as a single booking that includes both flight and hotel.  A vacation package can also include car rental, but we have decided to focus on the flight and hotel portions of the package.

Vacation Package Details: Who, Where, & When?

To perform an analysis on the quality of the discount, we must first decide how many people are going, where we want to go, and when.  Our mythical trip will be:

  • A trip for 2 adults from Atlanta to Barbados for the week of May 2nd to May 9th.

To gain an even better understanding of the size of the package discounts offered, we have priced the package at three different hotels/resorts in Barbados:

Sites We Researched

www.expedia.com

www.travelocity.com

www.orbitz.com

www.bookit.com

www.cheapcaribbean.com

This selection of sites is representative of the market in general. We included the big 3, a midsized online travel agency – Bookit, and a specialty or niche travel agency – Cheap Caribbean.

Results

The first thing to note is that at the time of this research, the price of just the airfare to Barbados was $552per person, or a total of $1104 for the trip. This rate was virtually the same across all travel agencies. Also, all prices shown below are based on airfare for two adults and a 7 night stay in Barbados.

Vacation Package Prices

The Crane Resort

Lowest – $2,026 – BookIt

Highest – $3,180 – Cheap Caribbean

Hilton Barbados

Lowest – $2,721 – Cheap Caribbean

Highest – $3,818 – Expedia

Almond Beach Village

Lowest – $3,429 – BookIt

Highest – $3,786 – Expedia

Given those prices, and the widely available price of airfare for 2 of $,1104, we can price the hotel portion of the cheapest discount vacation package as such:

The Crane Resort – $922

Hilton Barbados – $1,617

Almond Beach Village – $2,325

Now, the question is, can you get a better price at those hotels without the package?  Using only the sites in our test, here’s the best price we could find each of the hotels and the discount you get by booking the package:

The Crane Resort – BookIt -$1,381 (More than the discount package by $452)

Hilton Barbados – Travelocity – $2,113 (More than the discount package by $496)

Almond Beach Village – BookIt – $2,462 (More than the discount package by $137)

The results look very convincing.  Booking travel as a package can provide you a substantial discount on your travel.  Case closed right?  Not so fast my friend.

We took our study one step further, what if you expand your list of hotel booking sites?  Well we did that, and here’s what we found.  For the Crane Resort and Hilton Barbados, we couldn’t find a better deal anywhere.  BUT for Almond Beach Village, we did find a better deal on just the resort stay.  How much better?  Way better.  We found a rate for Almond Beach Village of only $1,666 on www.gtahotels.com.  That is a savings over the best package deal of $659 (2,325 – 1,666).  That is a lot of cash.

Summary

Here is what you should take away from this:

  • From site to site, not all packages are created equal – this is clearly seen in the variance between best and worst price of the same package on different sites .   For more on this variance check out this related article on Vacation Package Price Differences.
  • At any one site, the package deal is likely to be a discount over booking the components of the trip separately.  In fact, many of the largest sites show you the discount you are getting.
  • If you really want the best deal, you need to search around.  Use the big name sites, and some of the smaller ones.  Look at this list of travel agent sites for some options.

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