Now in case you think that this is a stupid question, please bear with me for a moment. Price is of course extremely important — particularly for those who are on a budget — but I get the sense that people are increasingly focussing in on the price alone when comparing travel arrangements, products and services to the exclusion of all other metrics and that’s not a good thing, particularly for the purchaser. Reason? It’s because people often don’t compare like with like and there can be a world of difference between price and value but it is not always immediately apparent until you start digging a bit deeper. Warren Buffet, the ‘Sage of Omaha’, is credited with saying that ‘Price is what you pay; value is what you get’. Like so many quotable quotes attributed to Buffet, there is a lot of wisdom in those words and yet it is advice that a lot of people tend not to follow for some reason when it comes to travel arrangements, even though they may apply the principle in other aspects of their daily consumerism. For example, I think you would agree that there would be few people out there that would compare the relative cost of a second-hand BMW against that of a similar vintage Ford Mondeo. Why? Because it would be generally acknowledged that the former has a better build quality, higher re-sale value, premium brand kudos and so on. Yet, how often does such acknowledgement get applied when comparing say an all-inclusive beach resort hotel with that of a cruise itinerary of perceived similar standard or the price quote by a traditional travel agent and that of an OTA (online travel agent).
In the case of the former, like is most definitely not being compared with like (notwithstanding similar standards, real or imagined) and the price of both is likely to be used as an ultimate arbiter of which represents a better deal without necessarily factoring in all the benefits of one over the other and which can’t simply be quantified in purely monetary terms. In the case of the latter, no value appears to be apportioned to the fact that, in the case of a travel agent, there is actually someone you can call in the case of an emergency or unforeseen problem, who will act as an advocate on your behalf, whereas with most OTA’s or low cost carriers, when you print off that e-ticket, you’re largely left to your own devices, come what.
So wise-up everyone and realise that, as with most things in life, you get exactly what you pay for and so if travel option A is cheaper than travel option B then there is invariably a very good reason for it — or possibly even several. Price should be used as a reference point for sure but your ultimate decision should be based on value — the oft-cited ‘bang for your buck’. Sure, there are bargains out there but some of them end up representing disappointments that could easily have been avoided if people just took a step back and considered all the options and considerations — not just the monetary ones!