How to Snag Travel Deals

Global pandemic creates travel buyer’s market

It feels like forever since many of us have used a passport, but while international travel is off the table for now, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great time to travel.

With the coronavirus situation evolving on a daily basis, health and flexibility are likely to be key factors when weighing travel options. How safe is a destination in general and the property where you’ll be staying? And how flexible are the terms in case the situation takes a sudden turn for the worse?

Many properties are drumming up sales even during travel restrictions by offering spectacular deals with no-risk change and cancellation policies on condition of payment up front. Travel Zoo is one of my all-time favorite sites curating some of the best deals around, and nearly all of the recent offers come with long lead times and generous cancellation properties.

Earlier this month, I spotted an incredible week-long deal for a 4-star all-inclusive resort in the Maldives at the unheard of price of just USD900 for two. You had to buy the voucher now, but had two full years to use it or get a refund if you weren’t able to travel. That has really become the gold standard of travel deals at the moment – slashing prices and mitigating risks to the consumer while generating immediate income for the property at a time when there are little to no guests. Unfortunately, by the time I was able to round up a group of friends to go (“I can’t go until I know I can get back into Vietnam,” said one expat friend before I explained we had two years to use it), the deal was gone. I’m still kicking myself for not jumping on it right away. That’s the thing about today’s travel deals – companies need money now but once the forecast brightens, those deals will be gone, so it’s really best to buy immediately when you see a deal that’s almost too good to be true.

Image Courtesy of Victoria Mekong Cruises

Of course, you’ll need to weigh the potential risks as well, ie. whether that boutique property or small airline will even be around when you’re ready to travel. So best to purchase by credit card because of the protection it offers in case of bankruptcy, and lean towards bigger brands who are more likely to have the resources to weather the COVID storm. You’ll also do well to keep tabs on the property and the destination to see how they’re faring and book under the most generous cancellation terms possible (remembering to screenshot the cancellation policy at time of purchase).

While planning international travel is a great way to keep the travel itch at bay, we’re spoiled to be in Vietnam, one of the safest countries in the world right now. With borders closed indefinitely and most attractions fully open, there are lots of travel opportunities to be had domestically. “Vietnam is an amazing destination right now because it’s safe, beautiful, and cheaper than ever,” says Nguyen Trung Cong, Director at iVIVU.com, a leading Vietnam-based online hotel and tour booking website serving mainly domestic customers. “After a long time of ‘rest’, Nature has had time to recover. There’s no need to go far; Vietnam is enough.”

“Many customers are still afraid to travel which is why we’ve only recovered about 70% of our regular business,” adds Nguyen. “However, after a period of social distancing, iVIVU has seen a strong recovery in domestic travel with demand higher than ever. Since June, there’s been a steady increase, especially in high-end customers, leading to a 50% growth over the same period.”

Nguyen mentions the high-end sector which is where you’ll find the biggest savings. With foreign guests and their deep pockets temporarily out of the mix, there’s never been a better time to splurge for less. The Vietnam Residents Offer from the luxe Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai (look for our review in next month’s issue) offers one free villa night for every paid night through August 31, including VND2,200,000 resort credit per bedroom per stay plus 24-hour rolling check in / check out. The Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa has ocean view rooms starting at VND2,400,000++ per night including daily breakfast and dinner with a bunch of extra perks as part of their HOLISTAY package. Both of these aren’t just deals, they’re steals for the level of luxury you’re getting at a fraction of regular prices.

Travel suppliers are also having to reinvent their products originally aimed at international guests to appeal to domestic travelers.

Image courtesy of Victoria Chau Doc Hotel

The new Victoria Mekong Cruises which started off sailing between Can Tho, Vietnam and Phnom Penh, Cambodia have revamped their itineraries to focus on the Vietnam side only. Shorter cruises of 1 or 2 nights now take in attractions like the incredible submerged Tra Su Cajuput Forest just outside of Chau Doc and the little-visited Long Xuyen Floating Market while offering impressive on-board amenities like a Jacuzzi and state-of-the-art movie theater.

Another travel trend is small group or completely private travel. “Based on our data from user experience personalization using AI technology, we’ve seen that our customers are looking for private trips, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve also been organizing private tours for small groups of family and friends,” says Nguyen.

Image Courtesy of Victoria Mekong Cruises

For the ultimate social distancing holiday, Victoria Cruises is offering an overnight cruise aboard your very own sampan in the Mekong Delta, starting at VND3,300,000 per person, including meals served on the boat and your own English-speaking tour guide.

According to Nguyen, summertime hot spots will still center around beaches including Phu Quoc, Da Nang, Vung Tau, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, and Phan Thiet. However, if you’re looking to escape the crowds, now’s the time to do so while borders remain closed. Imagine photographing the streets of Hoi An without 20 tourists in your frame or sailing through majestic Halong Bay in blissful solitude. So if you’re lucky enough to be living in Vietnam at the moment, there’s really never been a better time to travel!

Feature image by James Pham

Share this story, choose your platform!

About the author:

Leave a Comment

Explore the Wonders of Chankanaab Park in Cozumel

If you’re planning a trip to Cozumel, one of the must-visit destinations is the breathtaking Chankanaab Park. This natural wonder offers a unique blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural experiences, making it an essential part of your itinerary. Whether you’re interested in marine life, ancient ruins, or simply soaking up the sun on a pristine

Read More »

Dolphin Cove: A Premier Experience for Cruisers in Jamaica

Jamaica is a paradise that beckons travelers with its sun-kissed beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture. Among the myriad attractions this beautiful island offers, the best attractions in Jamaica for cruisers shore excursions on your cruise vacation things to do in Montego Bay Jamaica are a highlight that promises an unforgettable experience. At the heart

Read More »

A Guide to the Factors Influencing the Perspective of NBA Teams in 2024

Just like the basketball players themselves, NBA teams need to remain focused on their performance in the future. To accomplish this, essential responsibilities include managing the competition, the professional league, player recruitment and development, media and broadcasting, revenue generation, and worldwide expansion. Importantly, a few factors affect how they view a wide range of topics.

Read More »

Essential Guide to Visiting Macao

Nestled on the southern coast of China, Macao is a unique and utterly fascinating destination. A rare jewel, with its fusion of Eastern and Western cultures and traditions, this former Portuguese colony has become known as “the Las Vegas of the East”. It’s much more than just an entertainment paradise, though.  A trip to Macao is

Read More »

Vietnamese athletes in the Olympics 2024

As 2023 came to an end, Vietnamese sports fans celebrated three remarkable athletes who clinched the official berth for the Paris Olympics 2024 in France. The Vietnam sports authority is hoping to take 12-15 athletes to represent their nation at the Olympic Games in France, but only five have qualified so far. That puts them

Read More »

Momentous Sporting Events in Vietnam

Vietnam has always been known for its resiliency, history, and culture. These qualities are only further exemplified in the sporting events that they hold in the country. This Southeast Asian has been the stage for many milestone moments for the country and the region as a whole. It doesn’t look like Vietnam is about to

Read More »