With multiple promising COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, you might be wondering if you should go ahead and book one of those great travel deals for 2021 already.
Is it worth gambling on a nonrefundable deal, or should you pay a little bit more for the security of a lenient cancelation policy?
We talked to Bryce Conway, the founder of 10xTravel, to find out what he thinks 2021 has in store for travel.
What to Expect From 2021 Travel
Don’t expect the travel industry to be back to business as normal in 2021. There are still likely to be restrictions around entry to states and countries, as well as rules regarding wearing face masks and social distancing.
Current drastically reduced airline schedules aren’t likely to immediately return to pre-pandemic operations as soon as a vaccine hits the market, as Conway points out. “As airlines navigate shifting demands, flight schedules will remain muddled. With this in mind, travelers should expect and be ready for flight changes at any given moment — but that can also lead to opportunities to book travel at steeply discounted rates… the travel industry has major fixed costs (airplanes, hotels, etc.) that need to be covered quickly for some of these companies to survive, so I think you will see them look to fill seats and rooms as quickly as possible. Meaning, they will lower prices to get more people in seats or in rooms.”
Conway predicts that 2021 travel trends will lean more towards domestic travel, with people taking advantage of newly flexible work-from-home policies to test out slow travel, combining a vacation with a longer (remote working) stay in their destination.
How Can I Take Advantage of Travel Deals Now?
Conway strongly recommends that you review the cancelation and rescheduling options for any flights, hotels, or tours you plan on booking. He predicts that although flexible booking and cancelation policies are likely here to stay, the deals themselves will go quickly. So if you are planning on snagging a great deal, be prepared to book within hours of seeing a bargain or lose out.
Not quite ready to book a vacation? You can still take advantage of the great deals on offer from travel reward cards.
“We are seeing a boom in credit card offers at the moment as banks are scrambling to earn and keep a place in consumer’s wallets,” says Conway. “Most premium travel cards are offering bonuses that are higher than any we have seen in years. It’s not uncommon to see 100,000 bonus point offers right now with most major credit card companies.”
Tips for Canceling or Rescheduling Trips
So you booked a great non-refundable travel deal and regret it. Now what? Conway recommends reaching out to the company you booked through directly to see if you can negotiate some sort of money-back or credit deal, as companies may be willing to be more flexible than their cancellation policies indicate.
Avoid this dilemma in the future by reading the fine print before booking anything. Watch out for basic economy fares or prepaid hotel rooms which often offer a price discount in exchange for non-refundable terms and conditions.
Conway encourages travelers to book with big brands that they have some loyalty to in 2021—that way if you wind up with a credit rather than a refund, you’re more likely to be able to use it before it expires.
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