With travel options constantly changing, consumers are forced to make some pretty tough decisions when it come to choosing the best airline to fly, hotel to stay at, and restaurant to eat at. Price is a big factor for most and many dollar conscious travelers are out looking to get the best bang for their buck. Others are looking for the best rated and often turn to online peer reviews when it comes to making their purchase decisions.
1. Airline Baggage Fees
According to the Department of Transportation, airlines operating in the Untied States collected around $3.35 billion during the year 2013. (Bachman) Crazily enough those numbers represent a decline from that of previous years. Today’s travelers are becoming increasingly savvy and are always looking for ways to beat the system and avoid paying baggage fees all together.
Many airlines are beginning to follow the low-fare, fee heavy model set forth by discount airlines like Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant. Airlines like these are becoming increasingly popular, despite the fact that they nickel and dime their customers for options that many traditional airlines include in their base price. Personalized pay-for travel options include bags, requested seats, and onboard snack and drinks. Spirit CEO, Ben Baldanza describes the fee-happy reasoning behind their model as such, “What we do is we strip out all of the things that can be a decision point for the customer – like whether you take bags or not, or if you want to pick where you sit on the plane, or whether you’re going to eat on the plane or not.” (Tuttle)
Despite receiving an insane amount of negative reviews, Spirit is still considered the most profitable U.S. airline in terms of operating margin and return on capit...
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... or for hoteliers to 'sabotage' their competitors." (Smith) Hotel owners are also upset over the fact that it is very difficult to have a review changed or removed even when proof that the negative claim was untrue is presented. However, according to a TripAdvisor survey conducted in 2011, 98% of users trust the reviews posted on its site. (Trefis)
I personally believe that to make these sites useful when planning a trip, the reviews must be taken with a grain of salt. The idea of unbiased reviews written by real people sounds great in theory, but many of the reviews seem to lean to either extreme. Either rants and raves by unhappy customers who sound almost impossible to please or those written by travelers who sound ecstatic about their stay. I think it is important to weigh these against each other and look for descriptive, valuable comments amongst the muck.
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