You have probably heard the expression "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". This certainly applies to vacation offers.
There are many expressions that apply to this article subject and that can easily sum up what happens when we go for cheap deals. In Portugal, we have a saying: "O barato sai caro"; which translates to something like: "cheap turns out to be expensive". A more known English expression might be: "you get what you pay for"; I'm sure we have all used it in our lives more than once.
These expressions apply perfectly to the travelling world. When we are looking for travel offers we always want to get the best value for our money so, we spend hours browsing the internet comparing prices and reading suggestions and reviews.
Did you know travelers visit an average of 38 sites before booking a vacation? It's true that some people enjoy the experience of planning their vacations, trimming down the destination options, choosing accommodation, gathering ideas of what to do, and places to see. Sometimes, despite all this planning, vacations can reveal disappointing, and here's why.
Many people book their vacation on dubious third-party websites that offer a lot of "too good to be true" cheap deals. These websites usually have very unclear information about their policies that many times we tend to overlook because of the apparently great deal opportunity we are getting. Well, this carries some risks that you need to be aware of:
- Hidden fees: sometimes you select your booking and it all seems fine until you reach the checkout step where you are presented with extras fees that they decided to hide right till the final moment. This is a very deceptive and sleazy method many of these shady websites use. Also, if you eventually need to change anything in your booking, you will probably be presented with more extra fees.
- Inexistent or poor Customer Service: have you ever tried to contact a service provider and were left on hold for countless minutes till you simply gave up? This is what happens with most of these cheap third-party booking websites. First, you'll have to find a way through reaching their customer service line, then you'll have a lengthy wait on hold, and many times you'll be advised to contact the service provider directly (hotel, tour guide, etc) and they will solve nothing. In short, there is no actual customer service because you'll have to solve your issue by yourself.
- Low quality of the offers provided: the internet brought unquestionable advantages for our vacation planning, we can access offers from all over the world with just a few mouse clicks. Unfortunately, the internet also brought disadvantages. Some shady travel agencies and/or booking operators can easily appear to be better than they really are by presenting a good looking website, with pretty stock photos, that don't correspond to the reality of the experience they are providing, whether it's a hotel, renting a car, a city tour, food tour, or wine tour.
This also happens in the wine tourism sector in Portugal. There are several online tour operators and travel agencies promoting wine experiences and packages to Portuguese wine regions with very desirable prices. If you look closer, you'll find that these cheap experiences happen at and with unknown partners of inferior quality. The result is a disappointing holiday experience and the traveler will definitely get the wrong impression of that wine region or even of the country. With the single purpose of presenting very cheap offers, the quality, and even the authenticity, of the experience are sacrificed.
Let me give you a quick example. There are many online tour operators promoting Douro River Cruises. These rivers cruises are highlighted and considered some of the best in the world.
You probably have read many recommendations about Douro River Cruises and this creates great expectation for anyone who wants to experience it.
Imagine that you go for a €10 cruise with all this built up expectation, the result won't live up to the recommendations you read about, for sure.
Here's a review of one of those cheap Douro river cruises:
Rude staff, hundreds of people clustered with no information, inexistent customer service, and an experience far from what it was promised. This is just a sample of the bad cheap experiences reviews you can find online.
Now, let's compare these Douro river cruise experiences with one that Wine Tourism in Portugal provides, PipaDouro Vintage Wine Travel.
This is an exquisite wooden 1950s vintage intimate boat, with a maximum capacity for 12 people that promises an unforgettable experience.
Also, they guarantee that the crew is responsible for the maximum safety of all passengers and also responsible for providing a highly qualified service in order to exceed the expectations of every client, always meeting their demands in a proper and professional way. But do they really provide what they promise? Let's have a look:
And another one:
After this example, would you go for the €10 cruise, or would you prefer to pay a little bit more and experience a Douro river cruise like it should be experienced and that can actually live up to expectations?
We all like to catch great deals when planning our vacations but don't forget to pay close attention, carefully read the fine print, and above all, choose trusty online booking websites.