Travel Vouchers: 9 Things You Need to Know
We are about to embark on our third trip that has a Groupon or LivingSocial Escapes voucher involved in the planning. I’ve become a bit addicted to the hotel deals. It gets me traveling locally and for far less than I normally could, or at least in a more luxurious way than we are used to at a fraction of the cost.
I will admit I had no clue what I was doing when I first started buying travel vouchers. My experiences ran the gamut. Two expired before I could use them. I almost lost a deal because of an unseen booking deadline. I missed out on a too good to be true deal because I second-guessed myself and didn’t buy it before it sold out. Needless to say I’ve learned a lot this past year as I continue to explore the advantages of such deals on the web.
Here are a few things you should know before you dive into the travel coupon and voucher world.
- Ask yourself one question first- can you actually use it? Sure the price is great but can you travel in the time frame the voucher allows? Do you even want to go to that area during that time frame?
- Check out what you are really getting before you buy. That gorgeous little cottage on a remote island may be a flea-infested death trap in reality, but the pictures sure look good. Go to review sites like Tripadvisor or ask around if anyone has been to the cottage before you buy the voucher. I’ve taken the hotel risk one too many times just because I thought I was getting a great deal. Thankfully they have all turned out OK, but I am much more vigilant these days.
- Keep in mind that you will need to pay tax and any gratuity on top of your voucher purchase unless otherwise noted. Taxes on hotels are usually paid when you book your stay or at check out. You will also need to put a credit card on file at most hotels.
- Look at all dates and deadlines before you buy. There is a use by date and a book by date on many travel deals.
- Just because a deal says it is running for 6 days, do not expect the good ones to stick around that long. Many vendors will cap how many vouchers can be sold. Once that number is hit, the deal will sell out.
- When you go to book your stay or service do not assume that the email address or answering service provided on your voucher will get back to you. Be persistent. Many places are being inundated by bookings, especially if they are small and local. They are overwhelmed and trying to figure out this newfound popularity that came along with their deal. Give them the benefit of the doubt and keep calling until you can get your trip booked and confirmed.
- Have a few dates in mind when you go to book your hotel or excursion. Your first choice may not be available. You may need to have some flexibility.
- If your voucher expires, ask the merchant if they can at least credit you for the amount you spent on the voucher. I happened to ask a local snowboard shop if they could still take my expired Groupon. They said they couldn’t give me the full Groupon amount ($25), but they could credit me for what I paid for the voucher ($12.50). This may not be ideal for you, but at least you don’t loose all of your money.
- If a voucher vendor cannot fulfill your needs (available dates, etc.), go back to the site you bought the coupon from and see if you can get a refund or a credit for a future voucher.
Have you ever used a travel voucher? Here are a couple of links to our past experiences.