Thanks to my day job I know mostly everything there is to know about what happens behind the scenes when booking a holiday. And it is because I have to deal with the same questions and issues day in and day out that I thought I would do a public service and give some pointers on how not to become known as another asshole.
I will dispense this wisdom with common questions I get asked every day.
I will be using Potatoes to explain the more tricky parts of airline pricing because, potato.
You quoted me yesterday, why is the price so different today?
Just like a supermarket has limited inventory on specially priced potatoes so does airlines have inventory on specially priced seats. Think about it this way… The potato wholesaler tells Pick and Pay; we are giving you 500 potatoes at R1 a potato, once those are sold out a potato will be R5 again.Now just replace the word potato with air ticket, wholesaler with airline and Pick and Pay with Travel agent. See, not that difficult to grasp.
The airline is R900 cheaper than you, give it to me at the same price.
Now this is a specific demand that grinds me to no end. Take said potato again. Do you go into Woolworths and demand the same rate for potatoes that you saw at a farm stall the previous day? No, you don’t, because the reason you did not buy those potatoes at the farm stall is because you would have to wash them, peel them , chop them and cook them before you can satisfy your tummy rumblies with potatoes. Same exact thing with travel. With little to no one help from you we have to chop and peel your holiday to match your exact demands and then you spend one hour on the internet and demand to know why we are charging a 10% service fee? Well then, why don’t you go ahead and book it on the internet by yourself then? Because you are scared, because deep down you know you have no idea what you are doing. So in summary, if you can pay Woolworths a service fee to chop your potatoes please pay your travel agent their service fee, don’t make them work for free (which you force them to do most of the time) they also have to eat.
Why can’t you give me specials over School Holidays?
Let us take our previous potato again. During the months when Potatoes are not in season they are more expensive because there is less of them. When school holidays hit the world air tickets become like out of season potatoes and those specially priced potato rates discussed earlier are not offered because there is not enough inventory to sell. Airlines then decide to make the best of a difficult situation (and by that I mean they try and make as much money as possible by pricing their limited fares on peak season rates). And this is why you will never find a special rate over school holidays.
Last but not least. I want to travel over Christmas and New Year for R15 000 per person.
Client: Why not?
Me: Because… Potato.