Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: Travelocity - To Book, or Not to Book?

I always see the Travelocity commercials with the cute little garden gnome, and have always thought highly of the company. Low prices on air, hotel and car rentals, and the infamous Travelocity guarantee.

When my boyfriend and I wanted to plan a trip to the Bahama's, Travelocity was one of the first sites we went to based on the clever marketing and friendly approach the company always seems to take when making TV ads.

We already knew where we were going to stay, based on the numerous reviews we came across on Tripadvisor. The last step from here was simply to find the lowest price to our destination.

Although I knew I wanted to check Travelocity for rates, I also checked other travel websites to see which one would offer the lowest price.

Whether I like to admit it or not, Travelocity, by far, had some of the cheapest flights, hotels, and vacation package rates I could find for our vacation. It beat nearly every other site by $300 or more.

Before booking with Travelocity though I wanted to make 100% sure that no other site was offering the same trip for less, so I prowled online vacation forums. I came across some people who recommended that I book directly with the hotel, and then book a flight to my destination with the actual airline.

Of course I took this advice, but even after attempting to do this, and looking up several airlines for cheaper rates, my price was still nearly doubled compared to the rate Travelocity was offering me for the same trip.

First I was to choose the proper airports, the travel dates, and the hotel. Once that was all said and done, I was given the price on how much the whole package would come to.

One thing bothered me though, and this was the flight times. Luckily though, directly on the site I was able to choose a different flight and times that were more suited to our preference.

Before booking though, I studied the price, and got cold feet.

The next day though, I did the entire process all over again; same flight, hotel, travel times, plane; everything was exactly the same set up as the previous day, except for one thing. The price had gone up $200!?
I began my search over again, and set up everything the way I had just had it. Once the price came up it had been lowered by $350!

It bugged me out a bit because it was now lower than the day before, and significantly lower than the price that it gave me 5 minutes earlier. I messed with it one last time with all of the same travel settings I just had it on, and it went back up again by $50.00. So, naturally I re-entered everything all over again till it went back to the lower price I had before.

If you plan on booking with Travelocity, I recommend you keep going back and doing the search over again, as the prices tend to change magically within minutes. Bouncing from one price, to another right before your eyes. I just kept doing my search over and over again till it hit the lowest price I thought the site would offer.

Booking with Travelocity was a weird process, but I sort of enjoyed the experience of watching the price drop instantly. It made me feel like I was being offered some sort of 'special' deal.

At the same time though I realize that perhaps they do this on purpose to get people to quickly book the trip thinking they just found some sort of loop hole when it comes to prices.

They offer you your first price which is semi decent, then perhaps they know you will get cold feet and that you will likely come back the next day. When you plug in your information again it goes up significantly higher, and knowing you will do the search over, lower it a tad thinking you will likely make the reservations with the new lower price?

Either way, it's a good little scenario, and it worked, because I ended up booking.

After choosing this price I was then taken to a page where I could add on travelers insurance, and if I wanted pay in advance for some nearby (where we were vacationing) excursions for a discounted price. Next I simply choose my flight seats, and paid for the vacation.

A few minutes after paying for my vacation I was sent a confirmation email from Travelocity. This confirmation included my TripID number, and my flight check in numbers.

The next day I received an email from the airline to confirm my airline reservations.
Everything seemed like easy breezy smooth sailing.

That very same day though I also signed up with the hotel's reward program, and wanted to make sure Travelocity punched in my reward number for the hotel. With the reward I would be guaranteed a welcome snack, and free drinks stocked in my fridge.

I wrote Travelocity an email, explaining that I needed to make sure the hotel got my reward number. Travelocity waited 3 days before emailing me, and when they finally did, they told me not to worry about it, that everything would be set for when we arrived. They asked for my reward number, and I happily gave it to them thinking nothing of it.

When I got to the hotel though, I learned that you do not get ANY rewards unless you book directly with the hotel. Had Travelocity told me this from the get go, I would have been fine with it. Seeing how they led me to believe that it would be taken care of, and never once told me that I wouldn't get any rewards pissed me off. It's as if they told me a lie just to make sure I didn't cancel my trip with them.
This was not my first issue with Travelocity though.

Travelocity has a guarantee that clearly states on the site that they will let you know before you go.
Basically if there is anything wrong with the hotel, or anything going on at the hotel that would make for a less enjoyable experience Travelocity would let you know.

Although it was not a huge deal, the hotel was having very minor renovations being done in one of their middle buildings. Although we were thankfully far enough away from the work zone as to where it didn't effect our stay, it was still something that should have been mentioned by Travelocity.
Travelocity fails to mention anything. In fact the last time I heard from them was the day I booked the trip and they took my money. They took my money and left the rest up to me.

You see I already knew there was minor renovations going on at the hotel, thanks to the helpful reviews over at Tripadvisor. However I booked anyway seeing how everyone who mentioned it was not very much bothered by it.

The lame part is that, If I, the consumer am able to find this information so quickly and easily...why the hell couldn't Travelocity educate themselves on the matter?

I was thinking... any day now, Travelocity is going to shoot me an email and let me know about the renovations going on. They never did though. It led me to believe that perhaps the renovations I read about were finished. I mean Travelocity never said anything about it, so most likely the work is done right?


When I got home I wrote them an email asking why they never mentioned the renovations, they instead gave me a number to make a report on the hotel.

Bull-hooey! The hotel had nothing to do with it, this is Travelocity's promise, not the hotels. If anything, Travelocity should do the dirty work and figure out what went on, ON THEIR END, instead of having their customers poke around to figure out why Travelocity didn't live up to their promises.

If their was miscommunication between Travelocity and the hotel, that would be Travelocitys issue for not following up with them. Not my issue, or the hotels. Had I booked directly with the hotel, and given this same promise, it'd be a different story. But I booked with Travelocity, it's up to them to figure this out.

The main issue I had with Travelocity though was their lack of customer care. It sort of bothered me that Travelocity never once sent me an email to remind me about my trip, never sent me information on the island. Nothing. I got nothing. I did though get a bill, and a confirmation code, and after that never heard from them again till my most recent email.

It was just sort of pathetic. Travelocity has to know that when people book vacation packages they are excited about the trip, and likely think about it daily. Having a friendly generated email to the customers would take their service up a notch, but...they don't bother.

Over at Tripadvisor I signed up, and got weekly updates on my hotel. I didn't spend a red cent at Tripadvisor either, and they were kind enough to update me whenever a new review went up on the hotel.

At any rate, Travelocity took a good hot week to get back to me to offer me $100 off my next trip booked through them. Tah-dah!!!

Problem solved? 

In ways I'm glad for the $100, but truly I just wish they would actually come through on their promise. Promise me that you will live up to your own standards for other future customers. Don't just offer me $100 off my next trip. That's shady!
All in all I was not all to happy with booking with Travelocity. I'd likely only use their services again if I was guaranteed they have better customer service. As of now, it just seems like a company running on greed. The fact that they never updated me, or sent me a reminder email on my trip bothered me. It just really felt like they took my money and then wanted nothing to do with me after the fact.

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