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New Year's Resolution: We Promise to Relearn the Definition of a Deal

January 3, 2014 at 3:36 PM | by | ()

Last month, we published a list of early-season ski deals to help you save some cash when taking a trip this winter. As you might have noticed, although many of the deals we featured hooked you up with free lift tickets (which is a huge help), a lot of them were closer to "promotions" than "deals."

For example, the $530 per person, per night girls' getaway at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek may provide good value given all you get, but it is far from a "deal," an offer meant to allow those who normally couldn't financially partake to participate.

In other words, $530 a night is still a lot of money. And there were other promotions that were in the same boat, such as the offer from Hyatt Mountain Collection that if you book a three-night stay at all three properties in the collection, you will receive a complimentary EPIC ski pass for the 2014/2015 winter.

Sexy, for sure. Practical? Not even close. Ten bucks says under ten people in the world end up qualifying. This is a great example of how "discount" packages are put together not for reasons of practicality, but for reasons of publicity (just ask our sis VegasChatter about the $250K bottle of champagne). The idea of getting a free pass for next year sounds great -- and will thus attract media coverage -- but in reality it does little good for anyone and is, in part, an empty offer on the part of Hyatt.

What's happening across the industry -- not only with ski packages but with all packages -- is that hotels are front loading their own benefit within the offers instead of relying on their performance to recoup them on the back end via, say, repeat business due to a pleasant experience one had while taking advantage of the deal. No. Today, "deals" are these mega-packages for which you pay $530/night. When you book this, the hotel makes its money right then and there. With $100-off coupons, the hotel must meet or exceed your expectations and entice you to come back before the deal benefits its cause.

Based on this round of submissions we received, we're not so sure ski resorts/destinations really care about attracting budget travelers -- after all, how many $12 apres cocktails can they afford? And we understand that, but isn't the textbook definition of a deal centered around the idea of pushing numbers and giving people experiences they normally couldn't afford? And isn't that what's going to inspire them to splurge in the future when they do have the money?

Consider this an official New Year's resolution: We're done peddling these so-called "package deals." This is a total mea culpa moment for us -- we take responsibility for not coming to this realization sooner. Part of the reason these packages exist is because media outlets such as ourselves have played along and written about them. From now on, we promise to pass on to you only true deals (ski and otherwise) that are actually designed to give people a taste of a property at a discount. We want hotels to show us something -- anything -- that makes us believe that the deals they roll out aren't designed more for the sake of publicity than practicality.

And with that, we bid you a happy 2014 and happy travels.

Archived Comments:

Just Don't Use the "D" Word

I find articles on these types of packages interesting. While I do think that you should avoid calling them "deals", there's nothing wrong with publishing some of the quirky ones.

As a former hotel guy, I'll offer this hint: If a guest is planning on using most of the things in a package, it's worth buying. I'd even go so far as to say it's worth overpaying a little.

The Reason: Most hotels will prioritize guests on packages because they already have the money. While you might end up buying the compenents a la carte, the hotel doesn't know that until you check-out. So, in my experience, package guests usually get preferential treatment when it comes to upgrades and room selection.

Re: Just Don't Use the "D" Word

Eh.. I'm not sold that anyone actually books these high-end packages. A few people a year doesn't justify it... we're looking to cover things that appeal to the everyday person, that makes traveling more accessible for more people. Occasionally, "outrageous" packages are fun to highlight, but all we're really doing is providing the hotel free marketing... like this EPIC pass thing... I don't think that's the road we want to go down (my personal opinion). I think we need to put pressure on the industry to roll out packages that aren't designed for marketing alone. I'm not saying those things can't exist... I just don't want to write about them anymore. It's not the direction I want to see the industry go.