Following on from my Twitter saga with Virgin Trains a few weeks ago and the extortionate walk on fare i had to pay for a day return London to Birmingham, it made me very angry for many reasons.
Apart from a feeling of being mugged by the train company, their argument was if you book far enough in advance there are some tickets* that could be as little as £7.50 single.
It’s not just train companies who do this.
Airlines have been doing this for years.
Hotels now do it also.
And hotels located near exhibition halls like Excel in London, often quadruple (4x) or 6 times their room prices when there are exhibitions planned. Irrespective of how far in advance you book!
So with all this having to book in advance to try and save some money, is this killing off spontaneity?
There was a time when we used to tell friends: ‘let’s meet and plan something’. Now we say: ‘Let’s plan and meet someday’.
There was a whole industry born out of getting last minute deals, because it was often a gamble finding any last minute deals. That was the thrill of last minute spontaneity.
It was called Last Minute dot com.
Whilst you can now book a last minute holiday, you will probably pay more than if you booked 12 months in advance.
Back in the day, you could also get “bucket seats” on airlines in the past, which were empty seats sold at a fraction of the cost on the day of the flight just to help fill up seats. That’s how we travelled as students to exotic locations. Sitting/sleeping at Heathrow waiting for a last minute flight. Those days seem to have long gone.
Here’s a scenario for you to consider and let me know how you would feel about this?
You are walking along the South Bank, London (or any other nice location in the world) with a loved one on a beautiful sunny day and you both begin to feel hungry and suggest its time to have a meal. So you walk along and find a restaurant you like the look of, walk in and ask for a table for 2. The restaurant has many empty seats but the floor manager asks you “have you booked?” At which you answer no. They then take out a ‘last minute menu’ that is 10 times the price of those who have booked. You get the same food, the same type of seats, sit on the same floor as those who have booked.
How would you feel about that? Sounds crazy, eh?
So why are we accepting the current business models from the train companies, hotels and airlines?
*subject to availability and that you book between the hours of 4am and 5am on a bank holiday**.
**Some of this statement may not be totally true.