How the travel industry is getting involved in the largest shopping days of the year.
For over 30 years, retailers have seen Black Friday bring in billions of dollars to their stores. To sweeten the pot, Cyber Monday, which originated in 2005, has added approximately $1 billion to the total spent over the unofficial kick-off weekend for the holiday season.
With consumers spending all this money on gifts and personal indulgences, travel sellers have begun to think: why not offer vacation deals?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals have taken center stage this year by featuring packages, hotel sales, cheap flights, cruises—you name it. Even destinations like Mexico, Panama and St. Lucia have joined the trend. According to TravelZoo, some deals reached discounts as great as 70% off!
Because retail has turned Thanksgiving weekend into a promotional whirlwind, it all begins two weeks prior, with “Black Friday Leaks” and “Sneak Peaks.” Responsys, a company that tracks the email activity of more than 100 of the nation’s top retailers, reported that 79% of retailers sent out at least one promotional email during this time, while most major chains distributed an average of 5.9 emails leading up to the historic weekend.
Just look at Expedia, who is no stranger to this concept. The booking agency blasted an email offer of up to 50% off, plus a $25 cash card to take on the trip. Expedia had at least two hotel deals per day between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, while Orbitz provided a promotional code for 15% off stays at qualifying hotels.
In addition, high-end hotel chains have been offering a slash in room rates. Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide featured up to 25% off regular room rates at more than 500 properties, and Lowes Hotels and Resorts discounted up to 40%.
The budget hotel Howard Johnson held a post-Black Friday sale on November 28 and called it Orange Wednesday in honor of its logo color. It boasted up to 50% off at 50 locations throughout the US and Canada.
Mexico had some of the most impressive deals. The Hard Rock Hotel Cancun provided 20% off plus a $1,500 credit that could be used for most resort amenities. Upstaging its sister property, Hard Rock Vallarta offered the same credit with a 30% discount. Cruise lines have also joined ship with reduced prices and anywhere from $100 to $300 in on-board credit.
Great travel deals are out there for the taking—but unlike retail, these deals have not been as heavily promoted. Not to mention, taking advantage of them is typically more complicated than standing in line at 4am. In addition to booking before midnight, consumers were locked into certain days for price availability. Each deal was loaded with tricky terms and conditions that blacked out most weekends and required travel within the first two months of 2013.
Still, overall participation from the travel industry in the biggest shopping weekend of the year is very good news for travelers. It makes for great last-minute gift ideas. And the benefit for travel sellers is that restrictions should help boost travel during the off-season.