The Business of Travel

Lucas Peterson, Peter Greenberg, and Jennifer Flowers discuss the money behind travel—whether you can afford your next vacation, and whether or not tourism is helping or hurting local economies.

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If they’re telling you to buy
a ticket on Tuesday at 3:00 pm

and that is statistically
the best time to buy a ticket,

that’s just probably
not true for you. 

-It really depends.
-Right but half the reason why

this information is out there
is because people know

there’s a right time
and a wrong time to buy tickets.

-No, they think so.
-Doesn’t exist.

Do you know how often airlines
update their airfares every day?

-Tell me.
-275,000 times a day

and they do it based
on computer models

of who flew last year at this time

and how many are going
to do it this year in August

and how about next year in August

and all of a sudden,
two weeks from that day next August,

if those fares don’t
come up to the model,

they adjust the fares.

Okay but if that 57 days is rubbish,
what is the best time?

What advice would you give
to someone who is trying to figure out?

Flexible itinerary.
You just want to be able to

kind of go around
those big travel spikes.

And, can I give you one of
the hint that really drove me mad?

I was trying to go from New York
to Los Angeles a week later.

I went online and people like going,

I did it at 2:00 in the morning
in my bath robe.

I didn’t have to talk to anybody

and I found a fare for like $420.

I thought, oh, that looks great. Let me
think about it and see if I can do it.

I went back online an hour later.

It was $500.

Wait a minute,
how did that go up $80 in?

So the airline’s argument to me was:

oh, it’s a very popular route.

A lot of people,
lot of supply and demand.

I said, okay, well,
let’s put it to the test.

The next night at 2:00 in the morning,

I went looking for a fare four months
later on a Wednesday 11:00

in the morning in March,
no holiday period,

form New York to Des Moines, Iowa

and I found a fare for $220.

I went back an hour later.
It was $260.

Now, you can’t tell me there were
50,000 deranged travelers

at 2:00 in the morning determined to go
to Des Moines, Iowa five months later

on a Wednesday
at 11:00 in the morning.

So, how are they putting all this?
Is it cookies?

Yeah, it’s cookies.

They all deny it

but listen, if you’re going
to research a fare online

and you want to go back an hour later,

either use somebody else’s computer
or get rid of those cookies.

I used to think that all trips

weren’t possible without
a certain amount of money

but from listening to you guys,

I feel like any trip is possible
with any amount of money.

-Is that true?
-I think it’s a qualified yes

to your question because
we were discussing air flights

and guess how much it cost
when I looked to go round trip

New York to Beijing, China?

-$600.
-$580 round trip.

But now let’s put that in perspective.

What’s the cost of the
New York to Boston flight

on Delta Airlines on the shuttle?

Let’s get another guess.
Let’s get another guess.

-$400.
-$609.

So the point is you want to go
on a 38 minute flight to Boston

which will never be 38 minutes
because you’re going from La Guardia.

Good luck or do you want
to go to Beijing for less money.

Yeah, it’s do your research,
be flexible,

and go when people aren’t going.

Just find those sweet spots.

And I just think
it’s a matter of prioritization.

You know, I was just talking
to a cousin of mine

and I was saying, oh,
please come with me on this trip.

I went on a cruise
and I said it’s $249.

Just come on and she said,
well, I don’t have the money,

which I said, okay, I understand,
and then, in the same breath,

she said she just spent $300
on a pair of sunglasses.

And I was just like, okay,
I see where your priorities are

and it’s not that travel is expensive,

you just have to make it a priority.

Go back
to what Lucas just said.  $249,

-was that for a week or three days?
-That was for a seven-day cruise.

-Okay, seven day cruise,
-And it was dropped to $199

Okay, that’s less than $30 a day.

You can’t wake up
in Brooklyn for $30 a day.

It’s true.

If they’re telling you to buy
a ticket on Tuesday at 3:00 pm

and that is statistically
the best time to buy a ticket,

that’s just probably
not true for you. 

-It really depends.
-Right but half the reason why

this information is out there
is because people know

there’s a right time
and a wrong time to buy tickets.

-No, they think so.
-Doesn’t exist.

Do you know how often airlines
update their airfares every day?

-Tell me.
-275,000 times a day

and they do it based
on computer models

of who flew last year at this time

and how many are going
to do it this year in August

and how about next year in August

and all of a sudden,
two weeks from that day next August,

if those fares don’t
come up to the model,

they adjust the fares.

Okay but if that 57 days is rubbish,
what is the best time?

What advice would you give
to someone who is trying to figure out?

Flexible itinerary.
You just want to be able to

kind of go around
those big travel spikes.

And, can I give you one of
the hint that really drove me mad?

I was trying to go from New York
to Los Angeles a week later.

I went online and people like going,

I did it at 2:00 in the morning
in my bath robe.

I didn’t have to talk to anybody

and I found a fare for like $420.

I thought, oh, that looks great. Let me
think about it and see if I can do it.

I went back online an hour later.

It was $500.

Wait a minute,
how did that go up $80 in?

So the airline’s argument to me was:

oh, it’s a very popular route.

A lot of people,
lot of supply and demand.

I said, okay, well,
let’s put it to the test.

The next night at 2:00 in the morning,

I went looking for a fare four months
later on a Wednesday 11:00

in the morning in March,
no holiday period,

form New York to Des Moines, Iowa

and I found a fare for $220.

I went back an hour later.
It was $260.

Now, you can’t tell me there were
50,000 deranged travelers

at 2:00 in the morning determined to go
to Des Moines, Iowa five months later

on a Wednesday
at 11:00 in the morning.

So, how are they putting all this?
Is it cookies?

Yeah, it’s cookies.

They all deny it

but listen, if you’re going
to research a fare online

and you want to go back an hour later,

either use somebody else’s computer
or get rid of those cookies.