In a year when most trips have been canceled, travel companies are in greater need than ever to lure back tourists during America’s preeminent shopping holiday.
But as coronavirus cases rise at alarming rates in the United States and abroad, consumers may be unsure whether it’s a good time to shop for trips on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Travel Deal Tuesday.
Liana Corwin, Hopper’s consumer travel expert, says shoppers may want to take advantage of the opportunity now, even if they’re not ready to go anywhere anytime soon, as brands are adjusting their approach this year.
“Overall if you’re planning travel for next year, this is a good time to book that future travel because the prices are so low and they’re particularly flexible,” Corwin says.
Here’s what travel shoppers can expect.
There may be unprecedented discounts up for grabs
In response to the low demand in travel, brands have had to drop prices across the board — from flights to hotels to rental cars. They also know people will want to travel again at some point and are yearning to get on the road.
“What we’re hearing from travel partners that we’re in constant contact with is that they do want to take advantage of this consumer mind-set and capture that demand by offering even better promotions and offers,” Corwin says. “It’s likely that we won’t see prices quite as low as they are right now because this is just a really unprecedented time."
There will still be the standard deals of 10 to 15 percent off, but many companies are offering even bigger discounts than normal, or extra perks such as spa or restaurant credits and additional travel insurance.
In Puerto Vallarta, the luxury boutique hotel Casa Kimberly — once a getaway for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton — calls its half-off offering from Black Friday, Nov. 27, to Cyber Monday a “rare discount.” CheapCaribbean.com is featuring deals for more than 600 properties up to 75 percent off. Luxury tour operator, Abercrombie & Kent, is offering up to 50 percent off limited-edition private trips. And the Moorings yacht charter company is covering personal travel insurance for up to two charter guests per booking.
If you’re in the market for something specific, be it a hotel room or plane tickets, make sure to check prices ahead of time to compare them with offerings during the sale. It is the best way to find out just how good of a deal you can secure.
Deals may start earlier, or last longer
EF Go Ahead Tours, a group travel company, is offering fully refundable Black Friday sales throughout November and is encouraging shoppers to check back by releasing deals for different destinations each week.
And who says the holiday has to stop in November? The DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in downtown Salt Lake City, for one, is offering its “buy one, get one free” Black Friday deal (with chocolate chip cookie on arrival) through the end of the year. Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza in California wine country is offering 50 percent off stays when booked between Nov. 27, 2020, through April 1, 2021.
Flexibility will be on the table
Because of the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it’s nearly impossible to make concrete travel plans. Travel brands are offering deals accordingly.
“There will be a lot more flexibility at play than they’ve seen in years past,” Corwin says, adding that travelers should be looking for great deals but also for the most lenient cancellation or rescheduling policies. She says many airlines and hotels have implemented flexible policies as is, but she is seeing many offer further flexibility during the sales.
Many companies are offering bookings without cancellation or change fees. For example, Intrepid Travel’s sale is offering 20 percent off international trips and 10 percent off domestic trips that may be changed without a fee 21 days before scheduled departures — whether that’s for a new travel date or a completely different trip. In Florida, the 30 percent off Black Friday and Cyber Monday trips to Margaritaville Resort Orlando and Encore Resort at Reunion can be canceled without fees and come with resort credits to sweeten the deal.
Travel during the pandemic: