Travel Tools: Testing for cost, flexibility, and inventory

In my last post, I discussed the tools for independent travelers on Avanti Destinations and TripMasters.

In this post, I am testing those tools for cost, flexibility, and inventory.

Create an Itinerary

The first step of the test is to create a generic itinerary.  Do some independent research and know what cities you want to see.   Then, decide what you want to see in each of these cities. This will make it easier to decide how long to stay, is it 3 days or is it 5 days. Decide what types of hotels you are willing to stay in, is it three stars or five stars. Do not decide the specific hotel, it will create rework and heartache.  The tool may not have the specific hotel that you want to stay in. As an example, I wanted  Essence or La Siesta in Hanoi, neither were in the  Avanti or Tripmasters hotel inventory. Finally, decide how you are getting from and to each city on your itinerary.

*Deciding if you are going solo, as a couple or group, is not a step.  I always plan a trip as a solo.  If someone wants to come it is easier to adjust later.

 Steps:

  1. Decide which cities you wish to see
  2. Decide what to see in each city
  3. Decide how long to stay in each city
  4. Decide the type of hotel, 3 stars, 4 stars, 5 stars, in each city
  5. Decide how you are getting from each city; plane, train or automobile

Then plug that information in the tools.

Evaluate the output from the tool

I made the mistake of building my components out in Tripmasters first with the belief I could  utilize Avanti after for comparison. But to compare the companies products, I had to change about 50% of my hotels. Avanti does not have the large inventory  of hotel options that Tripmasters has for Asia.

Why am I mentioning this?  Well, the original itinerary was much cheaper.

After I built the trip in both tools, I created another version using booking.com and ita. Please see below for that itinerary.

International Airfare

Departure Leave Cathay Pacific Mon 20-FEB, 00:45 am JFK Arrive Tue 21-FEB, 05:40 am HKG
3h 50m layover at HKG
Arrive Dragon Air Tue 21-FEB 09:30 am HKG Arrive Tue 21-FEB 11:10 am REP
Total time:22hr 25m
Return Leave Bangkok Airways Wed 15-MAR 09:20 am USM Arrive Wed 15-MAR 10:25 am BKK
1h 15m layover at BKK
Cathay Pacific Wed 15-MAR 11:40 am BKK Arrive Wed 15-MAR 3:35 pm HKG
0h 50m layover at HKG
Arrive Cathay Pacific Wed 15-MAR 4:25 pm HKG Arrive Wed 15-MAR 8:15 pm JFK
Total time: 21hr 55m

Itinerary

Date City Hotel Hotel Room Hotel Price Airline Airline price
21-Feb Siem Reap Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat Explorer 161
22-Feb Siem Reap Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat Explorer 161
23-Feb Siem Reap Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat Explorer 161
24-Feb Siem Reap Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat Explorer 161
25-Feb Burasari Heritage Superior 192 Vietnam Air  Ways 145
26-Feb Luang Prabang Burasari Heritage Superior 192
27-Feb Luang Prabang Burasari Heritage Superior 192
28-Feb Mercure La Gare Standard 72.6 Lao Airways 160
29-Feb Hanoi Mercure La Gare Standard 72.6
1-Mar Hanoi Mercure La Gare Standard 72.6
2-Mar Hanoi Mercure La Gare Standard 72.6
3-Mar Caravalle Double Deluxe 165.66 Vietnam Airways 88
4-Mar Ho Chi Minh Caravalle Double Deluxe 165.66
5-Mar Ho Chi Minh Caravalle Double Deluxe 165.66
6-Mar Riva Surya Deluxe Room 264.44 Vietnam Airways 118
7-Mar Bangkok Riva Surya Deluxe Room 264.44
8-Mar Bangkok Riva Surya Deluxe Room 264.44
9-Mar Siripanna Villa Resort and Spa Deluxe Room 95.51 Thai Smile Airways 58
10-Mar Chiang Mai Siripanna Villa Resort and Spa Deluxe Room 95.51
11-Mar Chiang Mai Siripanna Villa Resort and Spa Deluxe Room 95.51
12-Mar Renaissance Koh Samui Resort and Spa Beach front Pool Villa 636.84 Bangkok Airways 261
13-Mar Koh Samui Renaissance Koh Samui Resort and Spa Beach front Pool Villa 636.84
14-Mar Koh Samui Renaissance Koh Samui Resort and Spa Beach front Pool Villa 636.84
15-Mar Koh Samui

 

Cost

The benefit of using each tool is that you are able to search for everything; flights and hotels in one place.

The negative might be the price.

Avanti Destinations was the most expensive by far, $7930 and I was not able to select the room I wanted in Koh Samui. I assume the trip would be more expensive if I was able to make that adjustment.  Also, the cost of regional flights through Avanti seemed padded when compared to Tripmasters. I am unsure how the same flight on Thai airway was $170 more on Avanti.

Tripmaster and I  were within a few hundred dollars.  Tripmasters was $7230 and I was $6952.

As mentioned above, I priced each of these itineraries as a solo traveler. If you want to do this trip as a couple, either add or subtract the cost of air, $2000.6, then divide by 2. Using Tripmasters version, ($7230+$2000.6)/2 = $4615.

Inventory

As mentioned previously, Avanti has fewer hotel options than Tripmasters.  It also has fewer options with regional flights, in terms of routing. This probably is due to Avanti only using preferred airlines and hotels.  Tripmasters indicates which hotels they prefer but allows you to pick ones they do not prefer.  I think Tripmasters has a more extensive inventory which allows the consumer to decide what is best for them.

Flexibility

Each tool initially requests the same options. However, what they do with it is the key difference.   Avanti makes you choose every option. Tripmasters populates lowest cost options and gives the consumer the ability to change it.  Tripmasters does not allow you to add or delete a city once it starts pricing. Avanti is much more flexible and allows you to add, delete or change the order of cities at any point in the process.

 

Overall, I think Tripmasters is a better tool for planning a trip than Avanti. It has a larger inventory of hotels, it does more of the work for you and it gives more realistic prices.

 

 

 

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