ABC News and list best US cities for hotel deals

On most trips, your two biggest expenses will be your transportation and your accommodation. You don’t have much control over the price of your flight, but you can balance out that cost by picking a destination where you are more likely to score a deal on your hotel. ABC News has put together a list of popular tourist destinations in the US where hotel rates are falling, including Las Vegas, Tuscon, Anchorage and Chicago.

In some cites, the savings can be as much as 30%. In New York, the average has dropped from $281 to $196 – nearly $100 per night. Stay 2-3 nights and that could cover your airfare. Miami’s average is down from $176 to $140 and the cost of a typical hotel room in San Francisco has decreased from $155 to $124. Even rates in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, are down 18% from $191 to $157.

The stats came from’s list of average hotel room rates around the world. Chicago, with a drop of 22% came in third place (tied with Anchorage) among major cities for the most significant drop in rates. Juneau, Alaska, was in second place. New York and Las Vegas tied for the top spot with a drop of 30%. Every state in the US experienced a drop in the average nightly rate, except for North Dakota. Rates there remained stable.

The lowest prices in the country were found in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boise, Idaho; and Las Vegas.

The global average for hotel price drops was 17% with Moscow experiencing the most significant decrease of 52%.

Life Nomadic: Beating The Moroccan Hustle

I have a lot of great things to say about Morocco, and I’ll get to those soon. Today, though, I’m going to talk about an insane part of the culture that can be found everywhere from Tangier to Marakkech: the hustle.

As a visitor who doesn’t speak the language, I’m only really able to interact with a small percentage of the population. Of those people I interacted with, I’d say that a good ninety percent of them are full fledged hustlers.

What do I mean by hustlers? I mean people who are hell bent on getting money from you, whether it’s through lying, aggressive salesmanship, or cheating. They don’t cross that fine line from cheating to stealing, though.

The biggest scam is the outright price change. We became so used to this one that as shocking as it was the first time it happened, we had come to expect it by the end. Here’s a real life example of how it works:

The Price Bump

Determined to ride camels in the desert, we hired a taxi driver to take us seven hours south of Fez to the edge of the desert. On the way we made phone calls to different tour companies and arranged for a one night camel ride into the desert, including lodging, food, and return by minibus to Marrakech the next day. Already brutally familiar with the Price Bump, we three times clearly articulated how much we were to pay, 300 Dirhams each, and what we were to receive.We got to the desert and were met by a friendly man from the tour company who we had been in touch with. Moroccans are genuinely warm and friendly, even the hustlers, and he was no exception. We had a great time in the desert, and after breakfast the next day the man from the tour company came to see us.

“Do you need a bus to Marrakech? 350 Dirhams each.”

Yes, he was trying to charge us more for the bus that was supposed to be included already than we had agreed to pay for the entire tour. It was the only bus to Marrakech that day and was leaving in fifteen minutes.

How do you deal with the Price Bump? The only way to win is to refuse to give a single dirham more. When you show your surprise at the new price, the hustler will always try to act compassionate and bring the price down a bit, trying to get you to renegotiate.

I’d fallen for it the first couple times (orange juice salesman are ruthless), but I’d had enough. I made it very clear that not only was I not going to pay any more than we’d already agreed, but that I also wasn’t going to leave until he put me on a bus. I kept my feet planted and my money in my pocket.

He finally relented and let us on the bus with a smile.

Super Aggressive Salesmen

It sometimes seems like everyone in Morocco is either selling something or is acting as an agent for someone selling something. “Need hash? Get high before you fly” may as well be a national slogan. I don’t care where point A and B are; traveling between them will absolutely result in someone following you, belting out some sort of sales pitch.

If you make the mistake of actually talking to one of the would-be salesmen, he won’t leave until you get where you’re going, and often times will follow you inside.

The salesmen in shops are brutal. They’ll try to make you articulate which of their wares you like best, even if you say you’re not interested, and start the bargaining shortly after. They’ll tell you that even if you’re a poor student who doesn’t have any need for a fine wool rug, you should buy five to sell back at home.

The key to dealing with aggressive salesmen is to first realize that you’re under no obligation to buy anything, whether they approach you or you go into their store. Ignoring people who approach you, even if it’s with friendly conversation, is the only way to stave off the roaming touts.


By the end of the trip I’d started to like the bargaining battlefield and even the bait and switch price gouging. It was offensive, but somehow perversely satisfying to stand my ground and win. The casualty of being jaded, which is the only way to cope with the hustle, is that you miss out on meeting the really amazing friendly Moroccans.

In the beginning we’d talk to everyone who stopped us to ask where we were from. Ninety percent would then pester us relentlessly about something or other, but the remaining ten percent became our friends: people who showed us around Morocco, shared its stories, and became familiar faces around the Medina.

I’d recommend that everyone visit Morocco. It’s very different from Western culture, has a lot of great historic things to see, and truly has the best orange juice in the world. But be prepared for the hustle– we weren’t.

At Least One Country is Getting Tough on Hidden Airline Fees

Hidden fees are ta reality of air travel. Fuel surcharges have finally dropped, but not gone away. then there are airport taxes, insurance charges and administrative costs. The small nation of Singapore is trying to crack down on undisclosed costs by forcing advertising to include a full disclosure of costs and fees. Eleanor Wong, chairwoman of the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), said that a “media advisory” announced last year did not lead to the kind of full price disclosure that she had hoped. So more stringent measures had to be taken.

“The idea is that these are non-negotiable add-ons and should be treated as an integral part of the fare. With the practice of adding fuel and other surcharges becoming prevalent, we thought it would be useful to issue a specific clarification that would apply to the general principles of fair advertising specifically to the travel industry.”

To enforce this new law, ads that do not fully disclose prices will be suspended. For once, Singapore’s authoritarian bureaucracy might have actually done something useful.

[Via TTG Asia]

Delta to start charging for the first checked bag but has more price reductions

As Grant posted, Delta and Northwest just dropped that fee from ticket prices. However, in the now you have it, now you don’t score card of the just how much money will this flight cost me anyway game, Delta will start charging passengers $15 for the first checked bag. This isn’t happening today, so no need to head to the money machine for extra cash just yet.

Starting on December 5, you’ll be rolling over that fuel surcharge savings into paying for the bag when flying domestically. The second checked bag will cost $25. If you purchased your ticket on Wednesday (yesterday), you won’t be charged for the first bag, but will pay $50 for the second if your trip happens to be when the charge would go into effect.

The fee doesn’t apply to everyone though. First class, business class, SkyMiles Medallion members and WorldPerks Elite members will be able to check up to three bags–up to 70 pounds each, without paying the extra charge.

But, here are changes that add money to passengers wallets. Starting today:

  • purchasing tickets over the phone from a reservations sales representative is now $20 instead of $25
  • redeeming SkyMiles or WorldPerks award travel over the phone is also $20 instead of $25
  • the curbside check-in fee of $3 is also dropped

Delta Airlines is making these changes in order to be aligned with Northwest Airlines’ policies as part of the merger.

Another change that was implemented last week to match Northwest’s price structure is that Delta passengers can purchase better seat assignments in coach for $5 to $25. Only 10% of the seats fit into the “coach choice seats” category so its not like people who don’t want to pay extra will be left with the dregs.

In looking at these changes it seems that the intention of the merger is to do the best possible job keeping the passenger happy while making money for the airlines. The charges could have gone the other way and Northwest passengers could have found their fees going up.

[Check out this AP article for more details. Photo by Andrei Dimofte ]

Ryan Air to forbid booking through third parties

I heavily rely on multiple booking sites like Atrapalo, WeGoLo, Kayak, Rumbo, Orbitz, Expedia and CheapTickets. I find that 80% of the time, they are the best way to choose a route and flight to a destination. So reading that Ryan Air is not going to accept bookings from these sites, was an annoying blow.

Starting August 11, Ryan Air has announced plans to cancel all flight bookings through these intermediary sites (also called “screen scrapers”). Why? Apparently, these sites function against their terms and conditions, and are illegal. In addition, they want to ensure that passengers get the lowest rates, to avoid the Ryan Air’s website server be overloaded, and to be able to have direct contact with their customers. On the business front: When people book flights on intermediary sites, websites like Ryan Air lose sales on services such as travel-insurance, hotel-bookings, car-rentals, etc — probably the main reason for this action.

For the moment, BravoFly, V-tours, Opodo, Atrapalo, and OTbeach, are the main ones Ryan Air is taking action against.

I think passengers have the right to choose how they want to book their flights. There are more pros than cons booking with third parties, and if the customer is willing to pay the extra buck, the airline is no one to interfere with that. Anyhow, only 0.5% of Ryan Air’s bookings come through these booking engines; since Ryan Air will no longer appear on the flight options of these “screen scrapers”, they are bound to lose that business. Looks like they are just making an unnecessary inconvenience for everyone.