In academic travel, the emphasis is always on making the most productive use of your time and budget. Research demonstrates that one of the most effective ways of achieving this goal is by advance purchasing your airfares.
By its very nature, academic travel management demands a cost effective mindset. Budgets are usually lean with the priority on reducing costs and unnecessary expenses.
While air travel is the biggest of all academic travel and entertainment costs, it is also the element that offers the greatest opportunity for savings. The key to unlocking many of these savings lies in planning and purchasing your airfares as far ahead as possible.
By organising your travel and booking early, you can cut substantial dollars from your air travel while knowing your trip is well planned. You can also spare yourself the stress of late bookings and focus on your conference, research plans and/or other activities at your destination.
Why fare classes differ
The case for booking in advance is best explained by analysing how airlines structure their fare classes. While different airlines apply different strategies to manage their yields, they all offer a range of cabin classes as well as varying ticket categories within each cabin class.
Most airlines sell only a small number of ‘headline’ fares for the cheapest seats in Economy Class. The remaining Economy seats are staggered in price with the most flexible ticket being the most expensive. Last-minute tickets tend to be more expensive as the lower-priced (and less available) seats have sold out.
On international flights, the availability of different booking classes is affected by factors such as season, demographic, market (domestic or international), government regulations and inter-airline agreements. In actuality, it is most unlikely that any two people on the same overseas flight pay the same price for their ticket.
Booking as early as possible is an iron-clad strategy for securing cheaper fares, particularly at this time when we are starting to see airfares rise.
However, you need to be cognisant of the restrictions on the ticket, which may have more conditions attached to it. This is why it is even more important to understand your travel patterns and needs. For example, are your travel plans likely to change at all? Do you need more or less flexibility with your ticket? Are there cancellation or change fees that will impact the end cost of your ticket?
A study on savings
Industry analysis by Campus Travel has revealed savings of more than 70 per cent on the cost of a domestic airfare when booking 21 days or more in advance of the departure date.
By analysing various airlines across key domestic routes, we have been able to identify firm trends in the cost of tickets booked one, two, five, 10 and 21+ days in advance.
If you are using a Best Fare of the Day strategy, you can pay 14 to 72 per cent more (depending on the airline) by purchasing your ticket one to five days prior to departure rather than three or more weeks in advance. The same applies whether you use a preferred carrier or take an ‘open skies’ approach to finding the lowest fare.
Reducing your average ticket price
The benefit of purchasing in advance on a consistent basis is that you will reduce your average ticket price (ATP) for the long term. While some airlines may slightly reduce the price of their tickets around 10 days out to control yield, ATPs will almost always rise five days prior to departure. The lowest fare for the route is generally advertised 21 days or more in advance, and during peak travel periods fares start to rise much sooner.
The key is to plan your travel as soon as you know where and when you need to go, determine how much flexibility you require, and book with Campus Travel to secure the best fare that saves your budget and meets your needs.
If you have to make a late booking...
If you’re not in a position to make an advance booking, perhaps because your trip has only been scheduled at the last minute, you do have another cost-saving option – Campus Travel’s academic fares. These are fares we negotiate specifically for your sector. Academic fares are available exclusively to your industry and can be substantially lower than the airlines’ advertised fares, even if you book late. Contact Campus Travel, either via a consultant or our online booking tools, to ensure you are receiving the best fares of the day.
Whatever your travel needs and challenges are, Campus Travel will provide value-focused recommendations to improve your overall purchasing behaviour and reduce your ATP. We will not only guide you on your booking behaviour, but also benchmark your academic spending patterns so we can identify where to make improvements and increase your savings.