I suffer from yellow/orange sticker syndrome – it is where I see yellow or orange stickers on items in store and am instantly drawn to it for being a great deal. It is marked down! It is clearance! It must be a great deal! 🙂
Most of the time, it is a great deal. I have been able to pickup some incredible tech deals over the last few years because of these markdowns (specifically at Best Buy and Sams Club). At the same time, the presence of the yellow or orange sticker does not necessarily mean that it is a great deal! I have seen some stickers on a computer that was $2,000 and I rush over – only to see that the price is marked down 1.5%! That is not a deal!
There are other times that the markdown does represent an incredible deal – 4 years ago. I saw a computer recently that was marked down 50% at Best Buy. The only problem was that the computer had not been manufactured in 3 years and the parts were not even worth that price.
And, of course, there are other times that they are honest-to-goodness great deals, but then I have to ask myself if I really need to get it. Sure, it represents a fantastic savings, but am I saving as much money as I would if I didn’t buy that item? Of course not! 🙂
Great Airline and Hotel Offers and Sales
So, what does my shopping syndrome have to do with “great” airline and hotel offers and sales? The answer is that we need to deal with them the same way I deal with my yellow/orange sticker syndrome. If you are signed up with an airline or hotel, chances are you receive e-mail offers from them all of them. Many times, those companies will use language to suggest how “Great” of a deal that they are presenting to you and how you “better act fast before it is gone.”
Reading language like that can get us excited and ready to jump but we need to temper ourselves to see whether or not it is really a deal, whether it is a deal for the current circumstances, and whether it is a deal that is a deal for us. Hopefully, these tips will help you process e-mail offers and other news of “great” airline and hotel sales so that you can make the right choices for yourself.
Is It Really A Deal?
Most of the e-mail offers were receive from airlines and hotels are not really deals. They are marketing material that is meant to get us to act. It is like the yellow sticker that represents a 1.5% decrease on the original price.
Let’s take, for instance, the post I wrote about recently with the ANA card. It is presented in a way that is designed to have you think it is a good deal. Really, it is not a good deal at all. It is a credit card that has a bonus that requires you to fly on a paid ticket to get that bonus. What? That is not a deal! That’s worse than just a 1.5% decrease!
Yet another instance is the Southwest offers to buy their points. We know that their points have a fixed value. If you buy points from them for more than you can redeem them for, then you are really being taken advantage of. The only reason that you should ever do that is if you are just shy of an award ticket, otherwise – no way!
For e-mail offers like that, it is pretty easy to know that it is not a deal. Pass!
Don’t delete them all!
Not all e-mail offers from airlines or hotels are bad deals, however! I have received some great offers – like the offer from JetBlue that allowed me and my daughter to fly round-trip to New York City for $7! That is an excellent deal and if I just deleted all e-mails like that without looking, I would have missed out on a very special time that we had. Another example is with the Hyatt Chase offers that come over e-mail – spend a certain amount of money over a couple of months and receive 5,000 points. That is a pretty good deal! So, take a good look at what is being offered to determine if it is a good deal. If I have received it and it is a good deal, you can bet that I will be writing about it, so you can always check here as well! 🙂
Is It A Good Deal For Now?
Just like the computer example above, we receive offers many times from airline and hotels that present an excellent opportunity to purchase points at less than the going rate. The problem, many times, is when they are offering it. If United offered an opportunity last year to purchase miles half off (like US Airways always did), that would have been a fantastic deal and one many people would jump on. But, if they offered a deal like that now, there would still be people interested, but since their devaluation in February, those miles are worth significantly less for foreign premium travel.
The same is true for hotels. Hilton destroyed the point value for their upper tier hotels in their big devaluation. If they offer an opportunity to get points now at the same price that they might have before the devaluation, it is really not a great deal and should be passed by all but the people that just need that little extra push to the next point total.
Is It A Good Deal For Me?
Then we come to those deals where the price is amazing and we are just trying to figure out how to take advantage of it. One such case that comes to mind was the “deal” from United for first class travel to Seoul from Boston for under $1,800 round-trip. That is a fantastic price! But, is it a fantastic price for me? Do I really want to spend almost $2,000 for a place that I do not have plans to go to right now? In fact, I had just returned from Seoul, but the price sounded great! Of course, I did not buy it because it would not have made sense for me to spend that much money and especially not to do that when I wouldn’t be able to take my family with me.
When sales like that come up, I just keep hoping that they will sell out fast so I do not have to keep watching it be there. 🙂 I had one such deal with the new Mac Pro one time – I saw a very high end model marked down from $8,000 to $5,000. I kept seeing it and begging for someone to just buy it so I did not have to deal with it anymore. 🙂
There are some other deals that the company makes very attractive sounding, like the Hyatt bonus points offer from yesterday. Hyatt points with a 40% bonus – great! But, when you consider that you are still going to spending over a thousand dollars for just two nights at a top-tier hotel, you start to realize it is not a great deal for you (or me, in that case). Sure, it has some value to some people, but it probably does not represent a great deal for everyone.
Do the math
It always comes down to doing the math to see if it is truly a good deal for you – will it be “saving” you money? If you know you are going to have to travel to a particular city in the next month and hotel prices are sky high and you do not have the points you need, it can make sense to buy them through such a promo. But, if you are just purchasing them for speculative purposes, it is going to cost you a lot of money to buy something just because it was a good deal.
When you receive an offer touting some sale from the airline or hotel, there are times when it is a great deal, but certainly not all the time! Remember, the airline/hotel is trying to turn a profit. They cannot do that if they are sending fabulous deals out to their e-mail list. But, there are offers that pop up from other sources as well. Just take your time to review to see if these deals are the best for you. Just because everyone else is jumping on the deal does not mean that you have to as well!