Travel for less with Travelzoo—Our Deal Experts Tell All

Dec 11, 2023

Here at Travelzoo, we send you the best travel deals straight to your inbox. And each email you receive contains deals with our stamp of approval. You’re subscribed to something special; and we want to pull back the curtains and show you how we do it.

We’ve always done things differently for our members and that starts with making sure every travel deal is genuinely the best offer out there. We’re not going to recommend a trip that doesn’t meet our stringent criteria and the gatekeepers of this are our team of industry professionals who live and breathe travel. We call ourselves Travelzoo Deal Experts. We are the CSI of travel savings, because nothing gets past us unless it’s the real deal. 

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at how we hunt down the best holidays and share our tips on how you can know if a deal is all it claims to be, or is it an imposter.

Welcome to our world. 

Who are Travelzoo Deal Experts?

We’re passionate about travel, some might say obsessive. But that's how we keep our finger on the pulse of outstanding travel experiences around the world. Everyone wants to sit next to us at the dinner party. They pick our brains about where to go next. They grill us on where to get the best deals. And we love sharing what we know so you get the best travel experiences and find out how to save on your next holiday.

Our mission—to recommend the best travel deals from the best companies. To do that, we apply our years of industry experience and extensive travel knowledge to determine if an offer meets our high standards. Google isn’t always going to have all the answers, so that’s where our investigative skills are an advantage. We track down which travel operators are trustworthy, what represents true value and whether a perk is genuine or not. Then we crunch the numbers, checking every single component of a deal against current market costs to see how it stacks up. It's time consuming. But we love that the hours we put into researching a trip can save our members the stress of trying to navigate the crazy world of travel deals on their own.

What we do?

Not all travel packages are created equal, that’s why Travelzoo Deal Experts need to look very closely at all the inclusions. We compare the standard of accommodation, additional services, modes of transport, sightseeing options, reputation of the supplier and even traveller reviews. Only after we understand all these aspects can we get a clear picture of the true value of a deal.

Now let's discuss the jargon. In our Travelzoo emails, these phrases come up pretty often when we discuss the deal's savings, but what do these all mean?

"Compared to self-packaging" explained

"Compared to self-packaging" means that the deal is unique. We've hunted high and low but you can’t book an identical trip elsewhere. So how then do we calculate the savings? Well, we buckle down and do a deep-dive into every inclusion—from the airfares, the same room category, to signature cocktails, spa treatments and every other itemised service. We carefully price out what it would cost to book all the elements yourself and create your own travel package. It’s a sure-fire way to know how much you could save by booking a great Travelzoo deal.

"Against similar itineraries" explained

Another phrase we commonly use when we’re announcing the saving is “against similar itineraries.” It might sound self-explanatory, but in truth, it’s not as simple as it looks. To start, we need to pick it apart and carefully read the itinerary and determine the destinations visited. Then we break down all the elements of the trip to identify the level of travel and inclusions. From here, we use our industry knowledge to find a similar tour, or we’ll do more research so that we can get as close as possible to comparing apples to apples, travel-style.  

"Exclusive" explained

Travelzoo doesn’t wait for deals to come to us, we regularly seek out great savings and content for our members. Often, we’ll negotiate a special price or extra perks that are “exclusive”, meaning you won’t be able to find the exact same deal anywhere else. At times, that also means members get early and exclusive access to the deal. A tip, when you see us say “exclusive” you always know it’s a really good deal, because we love getting the best offers for our subscribers.

What if a deal gets the thumbs down? 

Companies can pay to have their deals featured on Travelzoo—but here’s where we are different, no amount of money can buy an audience with our members. We’ll promote a trip only if it passes all our checks. 

After a holiday deal is put through its paces, if a trip doesn't pass our best-in-market checks we have only two options. The offer is either rejected outright, or if the package has great features, then it's not uncommon for us to go back to suppliers and request a better deal for Travelzoo members. We never recommend a deal that we wouldn’t book ourselves, and that’s why all the Travelzoo team have full passport pages and we’ve used up all our annual leave.

Tips from the Deal Experts 

Firstly, it’s a no-brainer to join Travelzoo and have the best deals landing in your in-box each week. After that, here are other top ways that you can save on travel.

Cast a wide net for a quick overview

When you’re starting to research a trip, a handy way to get a comparable overview is using websites that show a choice of airlines or hotels in one search, like Skyscanner for flights or Expedia and other online accommodate sites. Once you can see an airfare or hotel that you’re interested in, then go to the airline or property’s own website to check their rates. We frequently find that you’ll get the best deals by dealing directly with suppliers—that said, there can also be value in having a travel company make all the arrangements for you and using their buying power to get a better deal.

Book during the biggest sale seasons

Boxing Day sales between Christmas and New Year aren’t just for sneakers and spending your gift cards, they’re also a great time to book a holiday with the airlines, hotels and tour companies offering top end-of-year deals. It’s also a fun time to get everyone around the table and plan where you want to go next.

Early Bird savings are a great way to be rewarded for planning ahead. Traditionally the airlines drop the best fares to Europe around September-October for the following year and other travel suppliers jump on board with deals to compliment the airfare sales. More recently we’ve seen the early bird sales extend to other destinations and especially cruising to bucket-list places like Alaska and Antarctica.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are American shopping traditions, but we’re more than happy to embrace the sales in Australia if it means cheaper travel. Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of November and the day after is known as Black Friday in the U.S.A. (getting its name from businesses turning a profit and being “in the black” thanks to their sales). The good news is that the sale periods have extended well beyond the traditional 4-day long weekend and now in the weeks leading up to Black Friday and for days after you can find huge savings on flights, hotels, tours and cruises.

Early vs last-minute

There was a time when holding off and booking just before you want to travel was a sure way to grab a great deal—but those days are virtually gone. While you might snag a cheap cruise cabin or space on a tour, it’s more common now that places are filling ahead of time. Book late and you risk having less choice, or worse. As we’ve mentioned above, the alternative is grabbing very enticing early bird deals. Cruise dates have already been released for as far ahead as 2026 and with those come great ‘Free at Sea’ promotions, with extra perks like speciality dining, beverage packages and more.

All-inclusive options

When we crunch the numbers, so often it’s obvious that all-inclusive is the most cost-effective way to go. By the time you add up the full expense of 3 meals a day, snacks and drinks (especially if you like a beer, wine and cocktail, or two), you can come out in front with a full board or all-inclusive package. There’s also the hassle-free advantage of paying up front, then enjoying the resort experience without worrying about blowing the budget when it’s time to check out. Look out for great deals that cover dining, drinks, onboard credits and cruise gratuities. Cruises offer an all-inclusive upgrade option, but resorts are also doing the same. These all-inclusive packages make absolute sense especially for Robinson-Crusoe-private-island-type-resorts where other dining options are either hard to access or non-existent. 

Bundle it up

Travel packages are another great way to save and all it takes is a little bit of planning. When you do the prep work and decide what you want to pre-book, it can all be reserved at the same time. Booking the flights and then coming back a week later to reserve the hotel is how you can miss out on any savings by booking them together. Some popular experiences like our very own Ghan and Indian Pacific rail journeys often sell out so quickly that booking through our partners are the best way to secure them. Plus, you save precious time by leaving it to the experts. All you have to do with these holidays is book, pack and enjoy the sights. 

Packages often offer better deals because the travel company has negotiated special deals for a specific itinerary. They do not offer much flexibility and have set travel dates, but these are worth the compromise to lock in a great price. When choosing a package, consider what’s most important to you, because you don’t want to end up paying for unwanted extras. As you’ll see in our exclusive Travelzoo deals, there can be bonuses like cocktails, massages, sightseeing or airport transfers—package perks can add real value to the holiday if they are things you’d enjoy having included.

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