I know many people are planning on staying close to home during these tough economic times in order to save money or just because it seems like the right thing to do. Actually this is a very good time to travel for a variety of reasons, ranging from lower costs to smaller crowds to fewer competitors calling on clients. And I’m sure that there are other reasons that I haven’t thought of but apply to many people.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these reasons starting with the last one first. As many companies opt to cut their travel expenses they are removing the sales call from their sales staff’s bag of tricks. While it is true that much can be accomplished via the phone, webinars and the like, there is an equally important truth, which is when you actually visit the client face to face it gives you the opportunity to actually meet the client, see what the client needs and wants, as well as create a relationship based in part, on the perception that you consider this client important enough to show up, even when times are tough. I have heard of a number of companies that have cut their travel by as much as 70%. This means that a significant portion of their sales force isn’t traveling and as such isn’t competing at the personal level. Airfares are down, hotel stays are down, even car rental rates are down, so this is a very good time to go. As an example, the Marriott Marquis at Time Square in NYC, was $450.00 and up per night, this time last year, now the rates start at $254.00 a night. This time last year, the lowest one way fare from Los Angeles to New York City was $161.00, today you can get it for $109.00. Those are pretty typical savings that are available right now, which means that it is a much better deal to travel for business right now.
In terms of vacation travel, this year is shaping up to be a great year to go on vacation. With so many people opting to do staycations, many of the places that are normally packed with tourists during the summer months, such as Disneyland and Disneyworld, Europe, Hawaii and cruises, are looking like they will be relatively uncrowded this summer. So if you’ve always wanted to visit the Louvre in Paris but the thought of the massive crowds kept you away, this may be the best time to go and not have to be in line for hours.
This coupled with the discounts that are being offered the airlines, hotels, tour companies, cruise lines, etc., it makes this summer look like a terrific bargain. When you compare prices between last year and this year, the difference is amazing. Just before the end of March, there were roundtrip airfares between New York City and London, starting at $68.00, plus taxes and surcharges. Now, they start at about $90.00 roundtrip plus taxes and surcharges and yes, there are very limited number of seats available at these prices and they do require a Saturday night stay and travel must commence no later than May 26th, 2009 and they have a number of other restrictions, such as the tickets must be issued within 72 hours of making the reservation and ticketed no later than 5 days prior to departure, whichever comes first. However when compared to 2008, where the lowest roundtrip fare was $236.00 roundtrip plus taxes and surcharges, this year’s fare looks awfully enticing. Then when you look at the difference of the relative strength of the US Dollar vs. the Euro and other European currencies, Europe looks much more affordable.
This clearly is the time to go because who knows when prices will be this low again. So if you’ve been saying to yourself I want to go on a cruise but I want a really good deal or if you want to go to Disney or Europe or really anywhere, now is the time to go.