Attention: Please take a moment to consider our terms and conditions before posting.

Getting best prices on travel websites

This might seem a bit obscure but I suspect some techie types (@kentaddick  ?) may know stuff about this which might benefit the rest of us.

So I think we all understand what dynamic pricing is. Basically the more demand there is for an individual flight, or train, the quicker the prices rise - or they might also drop when demand is below what they projected. 

But is there also something else going on, which we can fight back on? Do they sometimes offer a really low price for a new enquiry, which then quickly rises if that enquirer doesn't complete the transaction there and then, but comes back later to try again? I have a strong suspicion that some of them do. If they do, is there any way round it, such as using a VPN to make the second enquiry look like a new one? Do you also have to expel cookies to make sure the travel site still doesn't know it's you? 

Hopefully a few Lifers may have an inside track on this...

Comments

  • I have read a few articles over the years which said the clearing cookies/ anonymous browsing etc doesn't actually work but I have seen more articles that suggest doing this - maybe just lazy reporting of something as fact when it actually isn't, like you swallow 11 spiders whilst you are asleep


  • momondo is probably the best site for flights. Hotels.com have a price match and a free stay* for every ten nights.

    *terms apply!
  • MrOneLung said:
    I have read a few articles over the years which said the clearing cookies/ anonymous browsing etc doesn't actually work but I have seen more articles that suggest doing this - maybe just lazy reporting of something as fact when it actually isn't, like you swallow 11 spiders whilst you are asleep


    I was exploring cost feasibility for an international rail journey. The initial price came up on the rail company's app on my phone. When I checked it on my desktop 24 hours later it had doubled.  But the IP address would have been the same, and I was logged in as a customer. At various times in the past I felt this had happened on the BA website too. But maybe it is just dynamic pricing at work. The lesson then would be, be ready to put your money down straight away, or at least in that session, with that website. That would be quite a tough discipline
  • This might seem a bit obscure but I suspect some techie types (@kentaddick  ?) may know stuff about this which might benefit the rest of us.

    So I think we all understand what dynamic pricing is. Basically the more demand there is for an individual flight, or train, the quicker the prices rise - or they might also drop when demand is below what they projected. 

    But is there also something else going on, which we can fight back on? Do they sometimes offer a really low price for a new enquiry, which then quickly rises if that enquirer doesn't complete the transaction there and then, but comes back later to try again? I have a strong suspicion that some of them do. If they do, is there any way round it, such as using a VPN to make the second enquiry look like a new one? Do you also have to expel cookies to make sure the travel site still doesn't know it's you? 

    Hopefully a few Lifers may have an inside track on this...
    Yes, it does happen, although it is now illegal in the UK I think (it's something the CMA has been waging war against...).  Basically the website will give you a price, but if you don't take it then and leave the page, the cookies show you've been on the website and the price goes up next time to look at that page. The way around it (I hope and think) is to use a different piece of hardware - phone, tablet, laptop, etc. I think it worked for me, but cannot guarantee it...
  • It's not just travel - I've had the same thing happen when pricing cooker splashbacks. 

    In my case it appeared to be related to service provider, as when I tried again while visiting a friend (in a different town) who has a different service provider, I got the initial price back (using my laptop both times)
  • Pedro45 said:
    This might seem a bit obscure but I suspect some techie types (@kentaddick  ?) may know stuff about this which might benefit the rest of us.

    So I think we all understand what dynamic pricing is. Basically the more demand there is for an individual flight, or train, the quicker the prices rise - or they might also drop when demand is below what they projected. 

    But is there also something else going on, which we can fight back on? Do they sometimes offer a really low price for a new enquiry, which then quickly rises if that enquirer doesn't complete the transaction there and then, but comes back later to try again? I have a strong suspicion that some of them do. If they do, is there any way round it, such as using a VPN to make the second enquiry look like a new one? Do you also have to expel cookies to make sure the travel site still doesn't know it's you? 

    Hopefully a few Lifers may have an inside track on this...
    Yes, it does happen, although it is now illegal in the UK I think (it's something the CMA has been waging war against...).  Basically the website will give you a price, but if you don't take it then and leave the page, the cookies show you've been on the website and the price goes up next time to look at that page. The way around it (I hope and think) is to use a different piece of hardware - phone, tablet, laptop, etc. I think it worked for me, but cannot guarantee it...
    This. Clear cookie cache and use different devices when researching. VPN might help as well.
  • skyscanner if you're just buying individual flights. 

    For my trip to NZ/OZ a few years ago, went into a sta travel, they quoted me a price, went on skyscanner afterwards and found cheaper flights on skyscanner for the same dates. Altogether i saved £1500 per person doing it on skyscanner rather than using an agent. I did have to eat what can only be described as dog food on my uncomfortable china eastern flights... but i saved boatloads!
  • I've sometimes had success in this using private / incognito mode
  • It really comes down to how the site in question is tracking you.

    If it's using your login then obviously changing devices, clearing cookies, etc. isn't going to do anything you're telling it who you are straight off the bat.

    Traditionally a website would track you through cookies, so clearing you cache/cookies will defeat that.

    These days things are a bit more complex and a VPN may be the only real way to defeat a determined site.

    The most determined sites/systems will build a fingerprint of a user. This will include a huge number of variables that it will try to use to uniquely identify you. On a basic level that may include browser version, operating system name/version, external IP address, your network adapter MAC address, what other cookies are present, etc. Even in incognito mode there's still a basic level of information the browser will reveal to a website that could be used to build a unique view of the user.

    Once a site can uniquely identify you then it can start tracking you, send targeted ads, etc. There's an ongoing EU court case against Facebook (and others) about this very subject. Even if you're not a Facebook user they'll stick a cookie on your machine, that along with the sort of info I've mentioned above, is then used to create a profile and track you across other sites (a huge number of sites have Facebook code embedded for social media features) and then target adverts at you when you visit Facebook or any site that uses Facebook for targeted content.
  • For flights, Jack's Flight Club is good for telling you about discounts that are on offer. I think the free version gives you some of the deals, but, the subscription service has saved me quite a lot over the years. Also, many of the well-known travel websites do not show some of the low-cost carriers in different parts of the world. It sometimes pays to look at the departures/arrivals boards at the airport you wish to fly to/from and see if any lesser-known (and usually cheaper) carriers cover the route you want. Again, this has saved me quite a lot over the years.

  • Sponsored links:


  • You have to wonder why a hotelier or airline would actually want to do this though!

    But here is one technical reason why it happens.

    Most booking sites work by offering cheap prices for the first few seats with the price rising as seats are booked.

    So there are two seats at £50.     
                       fours seats at £100.
                       tens seats at £110.
                       etc.

    When you try to book two seats, you are offered the bargain deal  - £50 per seat. But the site cannot now offer those seats to anybody else until it is sure you are not going to complete your booking. Otherwise it might end up selling more than two seats at £50.

    If you come back with another request it can't actually be sure that it's you or that you won't somehow manage to book four seats at the bargain price by cleverly going back to your original search and completing your booking.

    So the bargain has to be locked for an hour or so.

    Perhaps it's better not to assume conspiracy when ignorance and general incompetence is far more likely.
  • Incognito browsing always for research
    Never "accept all cookies" or whatever way that is presented.  It takes time and is a faff but there's value in only agreeing to the absolute minimum cookies/tracking/etc/etc options on webpages - raising prices because you've previously visited that site might be illegal but it's practically impossible to track, let alone prove.

  • This might seem a bit obscure but I suspect some techie types (@kentaddick  ?) may know stuff about this which might benefit the rest of us.

    So I think we all understand what dynamic pricing is. Basically the more demand there is for an individual flight, or train, the quicker the prices rise - or they might also drop when demand is below what they projected. 

    But is there also something else going on, which we can fight back on? Do they sometimes offer a really low price for a new enquiry, which then quickly rises if that enquirer doesn't complete the transaction there and then, but comes back later to try again? I have a strong suspicion that some of them do. If they do, is there any way round it, such as using a VPN to make the second enquiry look like a new one? Do you also have to expel cookies to make sure the travel site still doesn't know it's you? 

    Hopefully a few Lifers may have an inside track on this...
    I recall you asking the same question probably 6 years ago at which point I said it was good copy and conspiracy theory but simply not true.

    I'll see if I can dig it out...
  • edited July 25
    https://forum.charltonlife.com/discussion/comment/2707654#Comment_2707654

    EDIT... apologies, realise this isn't what you were asking...However, I think the same principle applies. 

    That said, pretty pleased with my memory recall!
Sign In or Register to comment.

Roland Out Forever!