September 19, 2018

Shoulder Season Travel: One of the Perks of Age

Shoulder season is that sweet spot between the peak and off-peak seasons that happens twice a year, in the spring and fall. Travelers in the enviable position of no longer being bound by rigid work or school schedules - as are many retirees - often schedule vacations during these periods.
Shoulder season travel offers a number of advantages: Costs of airlines and accommodations tend to be lower; reservations are easier to come by; the hoards of peak-season tourists have thinned out; and the weather in many locations tends to be more temperate.

"Shoulder season also happens to be the best time of the year to book whatÕs known as a travel 'package' or 'bundle' says Kevin O'Leary, senior analyst at Priceline, an online travel agency (OTA).

How does the "Package Hack" work?

In August 2018, Priceline announced its "Package Hack" program, promising consumers savings through "bundled bookings." The OTA calculated that Priceline customers who book a flight, hotel and/or rental car bundled in one single transaction save an average of $240 compared to the costs of booking the same travel components separately.

Recent modifications in Priceline's mobile site make it possible for users to mix and match flight, hotel and auto rental options (choosing each one separately) to create these discounted packages. In addition, the window for bundling components on Priceline remains open for several weeks after a traveler initially books a flight. This means that savings for subsequent additions (e.g. hotels, cars, etc.) are automatically applied at checkout. (Bundled packages are more likely to be available for more popular rather than far-flung destinations.)

What are the most popular domestic destinations for travelers ages 60 and over?

Priceline recently looked at data for packaged trips among travelers ages 60 and over (calling them ÒretireesÓ) who booked shoulder season trips to take place during September and October 2018.

The top 10 shoulder season destinations for retirees were:

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Orlando, Florida
  3. New Orleans, Louisiana
  4. Denver, Colorado
  5. Honolulu, Hawaii
  6. Chicago, Illinois
  7. Arlington, Virginia
  8. Dallas, Texas
  9. Kahului, Hawaii
  10. Los Angeles, California

The average bundled prices for trips booked on Priceline ranged from a low of $440 per person (Orlando) to a high of $1,648 per person (Kahului).

The same analysis found that older travelers tend to take lengthier trips. ÒIn fact, they have a longer average length of stay, as measured by flight patterns, than any other age group,Ó says PricelineÕs OÕLeary. ÒWhen they travel, they also tend to book higher-priced flights and hotels,Ó he adds.

Another interesting finding from the data: Regardless of age, the greatest savings on Priceline bundled travel was for last minute travel (booked within a few days of a trip) and trips booked more than 90 days out. Costs were lowest for bundled trips booked on Wednesdays or Thursdays for travel on the subsequent Friday.

Another perk of age: Retirees are also more likely to be able to take advantage of mid-week travel savings than travelers who are still working or caring for school-age children.

Copyright 2018 Forbes Media LLC. All rights reserved. From By Irene S. Levine, Contributor.

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