The Devil is in the Details

Once or twice a year I venture onto the online booking sites just to see what our customers are seeing.  It always overwhelms me.

First of all, all of the offerings look the same.  I see a list of resorts in Jamaica and they all look fantastic online.  The pictures are beautiful, they say they are all inclusive, and the pricing can even be pretty similar. 

The kicker is this, having been to the resorts I am looking at online I know for a fact they are not similar, many are not even comparable to the others and some are frankly horrid.  It always amazes me that there is only a one star difference in resorts that offer night and day different experiences.


Online booking engines exist to do one thing-sell you a trip.  They need to make every single product out there look great so they can sell it.  They don’t care if it isn’t right for you, or doesn’t stand up to scrutiny; they just need to book a sale.

So many vacations look similar at first glance.  The problem is when you assume they are similar you are setting yourself up for a major disappointment.

There is a huge difference in all-inclusive resorts, in fact in almost any travel itinerary, product or operator, if you just know where to look.

The first and most vital consideration is price.  It’s imperative to look beyond the price tag.  Some vacations seem to be priced higher than others, but when you get down to the nitty gritty and understand the differences you’ll understand why.

Frequently all-inclusive resorts advertise they have X number of restaurants.  What they don’t tell you is they limit your availability to those restaurants based on your length of stay and room category.

It’s the same with cruises.  The higher priced cruises have included excursions, beverage packages and amenities that the lower priced ones do not.  If you are only looking at entry level pricing, you don’t understand that major difference.

Not all escorted tours are the same.  Some of the lesser priced tours have very bare bones approaches.  Yes, they get you into the cities and centers that are most popular, but very frequently you’ll be paying extra for actual entrance into attractions and have inconvenient hotels and time frames.  

In the end the lower priced options usually end up costing as much as their higher priced cousins simply because people are going to buy the options anyway.

Who’s going to go on a cruise and never leave the ship?  You go on a cruise to experience the destinations, and on most ocean cruises every time you leave the ship, unless you just want to walk around the pier, it’s going to cost you money.

It’s the same with land tours.  Who is going to go to Florence and not go see the David?  Who is going to go to Rome and not see the Colosseum?  Who is going to go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower?  And I don’t mean drive by and wave at those sites, actually go in and experience them.

Travel pricing needs to be focused on value, not on total cost.  If you think you got a steal on a cruise and end up spending an additional $2,000 on excursions, alcoholic beverages and tips you didn’t get a steal, did you?

Big picture-that’s the only way to look at a vacation and determine its’ actual value.  The devil is in the details, be sure you understand them.

Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel.  Contact Joy at 918-339-4805.