Who Do You Need to "Friend" to Get a Great Travel Deal?
Looking for a great travel deal? Just ask your friends. Or should we say "friends." Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are now the place to go for discounts on airline tickets, hotel rooms, even cruises.
Hundreds of companies promise bargains, from general travel sites like Kayak (with near constant deals streaming on both Facebook and Twitter) to feeds that hone in on niche travel like CruisesOnly, where super low packages are announced via Facebook and Twitter, there is endless information out there. And much like that random friend from high school whose Facebook news feed is filled with breaking news about what their baby ate for breakfast, following the wrong travel sources can overload you with useless info and not-so-great deals. (Not a member of the social networking movement? You usually don't need to be a member of Facebook or Twitter to see the feeds -- just click on the links -- but you will need to join to create a news feed.) To find out which companies should earn your friendship, we asked travel professionals who they follow to find the best deals.
"In the old days, I used to look in the travel sections of newspapers to find travel deals," says John DiScala, the frequent flier behind the money-saving travel website JohnnyJet.com. "These days, I log onto Twitter." One of his top picks is JetBlue, whose Twitter feed announces deeply discounted last-minute flights every Tuesday for ridiculously low prices (think $10 one way). The downside of this, and many, deals is that you have to move quickly -- fares must be purchased between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. that day and tend to sell out before the evening deadline. Spontaneous travelers who follow United Airlines on Twitter can also luck out with rock bottom airfares. There's no set day or time when United's deals are posted, and they can be offered in any class on both international and domestic flights.
For the best unadvertised airfare deals to pass along to his own Twitter and Facebook followers, DiScala turns to AirfareWatchdog. "We try to tweet judiciously, just the really good deals, otherwise people get overloaded," says founder George Hobica, adding that his company tracks responses to Tweets and weblinks to gauge which sales people are most interested in. Hobica says that while his site uses both Facebook and Twitter to spread deal news, he feels they draw two audiences that are quite different. "We put specific route alerts on Twitter, for example $20 roundtrips on JetBlue between two specific cities," he says. "Where on Facebook, we might put the general sale instead."
Even if it's your business, it's hard to narrow down which companies to connect with. "I probably follow between 50 and 100 Twitter feeds that are specifically geared toward travel tips and discounts," says Rebecca Rosenfelt, founder of the upcoming vacation rental site Inhabit Vacations. Rosenfelt herself has scored wallet-friendly deals from Jauntsetter'sTwitter feed, which lists everything from $99-a-night stays at a Washington, DC, boutique hotel to cheap flights to Oslo, Norway. Rosenfelt is also a fan, literally, of Joie de Vivre Hotels on Facebook, where new offers are announced every Friday for special deals on luxe California hotels, and they give you plenty of lead time to book a getaway.
And whether you're looking to travel now, or get an idea for just how low fares can drop to certain destinations from your home airport, follow FareCompare on Twitter, says Nicholas Kralev, a former diplomatic correspondent who travels 100,000 miles per year and teaches people how to score Internet travel deals through his business, On The Fly Seminars. FareCompare allows you to subscribe to Tweets about dropping fares from specific departure airports. Another of Kralev's favorites to follow on Facebook is Travelzoo, which publishes a top twenty list of the best travel deals every Wednesday. "Sometimes you're going to see outlandishly low hotel rates," he says. How low? A recent deal offered rooms at the Luxor Las Vegas for $38 per night.
Read on for more info on our picks, and let us know in the comments who you turn to for the best deals.
Five to Friend or Follow
JetBlueCheeps on Twitter
Rock bottom Twitter-only deals on last-minute fares are announced every Tuesday, but they must be booked between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for travel within a few specified days.
Recent Steal: $10 each way between Long Beach, CA and Sacramento, CA.
AirfareWatchdog on Twitter
Lowfare alert site that covers all airlines (including ones you've surely never heard of) and airline-site-only fares. General airline sales as well as Fare of the Day alerts on specific routes are continuously updated.
Recent Steal: Round trip flight between Chicago and San Juan, Puerto Rico on American Airlines for $278, including all taxes.
Travelzoo on Facebook
Opt for regional feeds (Miami, New York City, San Francisco, and more) to hone in on your home zone or follow the main Twitter and Facebook feed for deals on airfare, hotels, cruises and package deals sourced by a team of 100 travel experts.
Recent Steal: Junior suites with full kitchens for $169 per night through September 7 at Affinia Gardens, an all-suite hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Joie De Vivre Hotels on Facebook and Twitter
Joie de Vivre's alliterative Facebook Fridays and Twitter Tuesdays deals offer terrific rates on luxury California boutique hotels that usually have to booked within a few hours of being announced.
Recent Steal: A recent Facebook Friday deal offered weekday rates starting at $125 at their Laguna Beach's Pacific Edge Hotel, while a holiday rate as low as $100 a night at the Galleria Park Hotel in San Francisco was offered on Twitter.
CruisesOnly on Facebook
Part of World Travel Holdings, the company works with virtually every cruise line to offer discounts and incentives on Facebook and Twitter. Deals post on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Recent Steal: Three night Bahamas cruise from Miami aboard the Norwegian Sky (Norwegian Cruise Line) for $199, including free balcony upgrade.
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