Everything you’ve heard about Dead Week may be dead wrong.
Dead Week, for those of you who aren’t dyed-in-the-wool bargain hunters, takes place the first week of every year. After the New Year’s holiday, travel falls off the map, figuratively speaking, as occupancy rates and prices plunge to their lowest levels in months.
Clem Bason is the president of Hotwire.com, the discount travel Web site. I asked him about the outlook for bargains in the second half of the summer, and to address some of the consumer complaints about so-called “opaque” travel sites.
Q: Can you give me an idea of the kinds of rates you’ve seen, compared with summers past?
Bason: It’s truly an amazing time to travel if you’re a bargain-hunter. Hotel occupancy rates have plummeted along with the economy – more than 55 percent of the hotel rooms across the US were empty on any given night in July. And this translates into deep discounts for consumers. Opaque rates in New York City have dropped 32 percent. San Diego is down by 29 percent and Orlando is off by 22 percent compared to last summer, just to name a few. Read more “Hotwire’s Bason: “I don’t expect these prices to last””
Traffic to the three major online travel agencies — Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity — is trending upward, as bargain-hunters snap up discounted airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars. It helps that the agencies eliminated some of their booking fees a few months ago.
Expedia’s bounce (in blue) is the most dramatic, with traffic levels markedly higher than it was at this point a in 2008. The other two OTAs (Orbitz in yellow and Travelocity in green) are holding steady, versus last July’s levels.