Private sales sites have completely transformed the way we shop online. From clothes to footwear, the online arena promises (and delivers) great deals at bargain prices. In the offline world, such deals probably would not exist. And it is not just clothes and accessories that are being sold over members-only websites online, luxury travel has also joined this bandwagon.
Nowadays, plenty of private sales sites are specializing in luxury travel. So you have well-known online destinations like Gilt Groupe’s Jetsetter.com, TripAdvisor.com’s Sniqueaway and long-standing French site VoyagePrive. All of these sites combine terrific travel deals with editorial content to ensure that travelers not only get the best deals, but also useful travel trips in the bargain. Other groups have also joined this niche arena. You have Tablet Hotels, Vacationist and Rue La La, also trying to exploit this sector. The latter combines luxury travel deals with retail goods sales.
The main benefit of these private sales sites is that they offer travel deals at really low prices. The business model is such that you will not get a cheaper deal anywhere else. So how does this work? Why would hotels give away such cheap deals to third parties rather than exploit these themselves?
Generally, private sales sites that sell designer clothing stock clothes from previous seasons, clothes that ultimately remained unsold, clothes that have long past their sell-by date. They are a great outlet for getting rid of excess inventory. It is a similar situation in the case of luxury travel. For instance, when luxury hotels and resorts find that they cannot get a set of rooms booked, they give these over to a private sales site. Most such sites enter into contracts with luxury hotels and resorts in order to be the beneficiary of this opportunity. The contract states that cheaper deals for the same rooms, tours or tickets cannot be offered elsewhere. This tactic holds for airlines and cruises as well.
In the past, travel groups from airlines to hotels resorted to the “weekly e-saver” scheme to entice travelers to get travel deals at low rates. However, the deals were too specific, and only worked if an individual or a group had already planned on travelling to a given destination on such-and-such days. The chances of travel plans matching with the tickets and booking deals on offer were rather low.
However, the rise of private sales sites like Sniqueaway and Jetsetter.com are making things more user-friendly. Since these sites build contracts with various travel properties, visitors can choose from a range of different deals. Things have come to such a pass that more and more people are using these sites to make their reservations these days, all in the hope of a better deal. It certainly works, for members-only sites offer rooms and tour packages at discounts of between 40 percent and 70 percent, which translates into a lot of savings.
This system, in fact, works best if one plans at least a month or two in advance and is not picky about the dates. The properties available range from 3½ and 4-star hotels to really high-end properties like Aman and Park Hyatt. So if you are eyeing a luxury vacation on a relatively shoestring budget, it rarely gets better.