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.
- Decide which cities you wish to see
- Decide what to see in each city
- Decide how long to stay in each city
- Decide the type of hotel, 3 stars, 4 stars, 5 stars, in each city
- 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.
|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|
|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|
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.
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.
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.