|by Sean O'Neill||Helpful Websites||16|
If you haven't used the online travel agency CheapTickets in a while—or ever—then you may be interested in the following Q&A; with the company's officials.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about CheapTickets?
Because of the name, some consumers assume that CheapTickets only provides airline tickets when in fact the site is a leading seller of leisure travel products that also includes hotels, cruises, rental cars, vacation packages, condo rentals and Last Minute Trips. We now also offer a variety of attractions, services and event tickets in most destinations through our “Event Tickets and More” tab.
What are a couple of the features you’ve added to the site in 2008 that our readers may not be aware of?
CheapTickets’ Last Minute Trips tab now highlights budget-friendly travel ideas by theme, including Sunny, Romance, Luxury, Vegas/Casinos, Big Cities and Cruise. Within each theme, we recommend five destinations that will appeal to travelers’ interests and offer value.
We now have a more robust Cruise tab with last minute cruise deals.
The CheapTickets blog offers travel tips on a variety of topics such as strategies for planning on a budget and finding the best off-season deals. In addition, the blog contains an online video component featuring budget travel advice from our team of travel experts. Each Tuesday a new video debuts, highlighting key travel deals and sales available on CheapTickets.
CheapTickets.com launched the Share Your Cheap promotion (www.cheapticket.com/yourstory) which runs through December 31, 2008, that invites travelers to share their best vacation photo and budget travel tips. Each month, CheapTickets.com will award one entrant with roundtrip airfare for two, for travel anywhere in the continental United States, and may feature the winner’s photograph and travel tips on CheapTickets.com.
CheapTickets also launched an Urban Traveler microsite that provides the top urban destinations accompanied by travel options and discounts. To enhance the user experience, featured content is provided by EbonyJet.com, an online journal by the publishers of Ebony and Jet.
What’s the most powerful tool on CheapTickets that people ought to know about but may not be using yet?
This is not a tool but without a doubt customers should take a look at the Cheap of the Week page. CheapTickets’ Market Managers, who are stationed throughout the U.S. and the world, secure deeply discounted hotel deals for CheapTickets’ customers. Each Tuesday morning, the page is updated to feature new deals and a new destination, providing a limited-time opportunity to visit and save.
Any advice about using CheapTickets to avoid fees—or to avoid surprise fees?
People concerned about additional airline fees, for example, can check out the break down of new baggage fees in the FAQ section of the CheapTickets site. They should also ensure they review the confirmation page during the booking process so they understand additional fees.
We’re in the off-season for Europe now. What are sample bargains you see right now for air or lodging for European trips in the fall, holidays, and/or winter? Any cities becoming relatively good values—and how so?
Going into fall you will start to see better offers in Europe. Check off the beaten path destinations like Galway instead of Dublin, or Brighton England instead of London. Also when searching on CheapTickets, don’t shy away from U.S.-based chains like Holiday Inn, often these are 5-star hotels in Europe.
Flight from Chicago (Non stop, overnight flight) to Dublin + 3 nights at the 3 star Holiday Inn Dublin City Centre from $715/person (11.06-11.10)
Flight from Atlanta (one stop, major carrier, overnight flight) to London + 3 nights at the 4 star Sheraton Skyline Hotel & Conference Centre from $841/ person (11.20-11.24)
Flight from Washington DC (one stop, major carrier, overnight flight) to Paris + 3 nights at the 3 star Ferrandi Hotel from $961/person (11.27-12.01)
Flight from Denver (one stop, overnight flight) to Rome + 3 nights at the 4 star Aris Garden Hotel from $920/person (11.27-12.01)
Sample rates shown were accurate and available on CheapTickets.com on 9-17-08 on the dates specified and may not represent current prices because our real-time pricing booking engine is constantly updating prices and availability. Vacation package prices shown are for one adult, based on double-occupancy, include applicable taxes and fees, and will vary by selected day of departure, departure city, length of stay, hotel selected, hotel room category, and availability.
People may think of CheapTickets for domestic travel. But what percentage of your business is for international travel?
We don't break out our numbers for competitive reasons. We have said, because of the strong U.S. dollar, that we've seen a shift in vacation destinations, moving from Europe to Mexico and the Caribbean. I can also tell you that our top five International destinations right now are Mexico, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Bahamas and Jamaica.
Why use CheapTickets versus other sites?
Value is extremely important to the CheapTickets customer. And, although our site has a variety of wonderful travel product offerings we are more committed than other sites to providing resources—such as our CheapTickets Blog, Off-Season Deals Report, and Cheap of the Week that help them get great travel deals at a price that fits within their budget and makes them feel great.
In addition to the resources that we offer onsite, the CheapTickets ‘Real People’ ad campaign is all about celebrating cheapness. Through our advertising (where we use real people who offer advice and tips on how to save on travel), we demonstrate to our customers that we celebrate cheapness with them and take pride helping them search and book great deals.