Generally speaking, once booked and paid in full, your price is locked in; it won’t go up, and it won’t go down, with rare exception.
Travel services have volatile pricing because it is a highly perishable and intangible product. Prices are set by supply and demand, and vary greatly based on a number of criteria that drive supply and demand. Some of these include day of week, time of day, advance booking, and scarcity of the product, but more often than not, it simply depends on how bookings have gone so far, and how much is left to sell prior to the consumption date.
Travel being an extremely competitive market with many substitution options, prices are set with the goal to sell it out just prior to the service date. Airlines, hotels, tour operators, and cruise lines, all use “yield management” to adjust their prices up and down depending on market conditions. It is completely unpredictable, but a consumer can get an idea of price volatility by looking at dates around the ideal date, or more recent dates, to see how much the price varies.
Because these travel service providers have many different prices for the same service on the same date, they do not guarantee changes in price once booked and paid in full. This is not at all the same as many retail outlets dealing in goods, where you may find the ability to claim back the difference within a number of days of purchase. There are many fare levels that apply to the same seat, and holding a confirmed reservation in advance ensures you actually getting the service. Those who wait until the last minute often find the service sold out, and in some cases more expensive than in advance.
Tripcentral.ca has no control of the price our suppliers ask for their services, nor do we have any advance knowledge of sale activities or even booking levels. Travel suppliers do not disclose to us how many seats they have open, because if they did, no one would book in advance. They may tell us when seats are “limited” or very close to selling out as a courtesy, but even then, space could be “wide open” and a group can come along and take all the space.
Vacation packages are driven by two main pricing components – the airline seat cost, and the hotel cost. Sometimes hotels may put on a sale “for new bookings only”, and the operator lowers the price of the package as a result. Other times, the air space is not selling, and this forces the price down. Conversely, if things are selling better than expected, the price will go up if there is strong demand.
Changes in currency exchange rates and the price of oil can also affect pricing, particularly if these changes are sudden and dramatic.
When you fill your gas tank in the morning, and the price goes down in the afternoon, you cannot go back to the station looking for a refund. By the same token, if the price goes up, the gas attendant is not calling you at home looking for more money from you! The same applies with stock prices – you can’t expect your broker to guarantee pricing of a stock, and that a better deal will not be found at a later date.
While there are some marketing gimmicks offered from time to time about “price protection”, the reality is that the guarantee is loaded with fine print – the biggest one being that it doesn’t cover price changes within 30 days. Well, if a price is going to change, it is almost assured to be happening inside 30 days which makes the guarantee quite hollow.
The only exceptions to this rule are when deposits are refundable, and this happens often with cruise lines (but not wholesalers of cruise lines with guaranteed air). The cruise lines will make price adjustments prior to final payment (which is often 60 days or more prior to sailing). All travel suppliers reserve the right to pass on any newly imposed tax or mandatory government fee that was not in place prior to booking, but will be at the time you travel.
And last, most tour operators have a currency and fuel clause in their terms and conditions that could allow them to impose an increase (TICO caps this at no more than 7% of the purchase price; it would trigger the right to cancel with full refund if the price increase were greater than 7%) if there is a sudden change in currency exchange or fuel. Rarely is this applied when the booking is paid in full.