Dynamic Pricing, Dynamic Booking, Dynamic Traveling (Part I)

Everybody knows about ‘dynamic pricing’ by now, that internet-era phenomenon of everybody paying a different price for the same flight.  It’s a whole lot like haggling with a rug merchant in… well, just about anywhere.  Actually it’s mostly about tailoring certain prices to certain markets at certain times based on certain criteria, and as long as you know some basic principles, it can work to either party’s advantage.  It only gets creepy when it seems like the robots at Google know more about me than I do, or when they think they do, but really don’t, since how can they tell what activities of mine are for work and which for pleasure, after all?  Once again, this can still work to my advantage, since they know nothing about me if not that I am thrifty.  So if they want to give me the best rates, then that’s cool.


So I’d been pricing my recent trip to Uzbekistan off and on for a while, trying to decide whether it was in my price range or not.  Since it’s about half a world away from LA any direction you go, that gives multiple options, if not cheap prices, so I’d just about decided on Korean Air, which had a RT flight for about $1500.  Then I waited a day or two too long, and it was gone, cheapest available now a hundred or two more.  So I started the process all over.  Well, at this point it was right at two months from the planned departure date, a crucial time in the booking process, AND Turkey had been undergoing social turbulence for a week or so by then, and their tourist season was looking dismal. 


So, suddenly, flights that had cost $3,000 a month before—via Turkey—were now going for less than the original Korean flight.  Can that be right?  Then I did something I’d never done before: push that button that offers to compare four to six flights simultaneously.  It works.  THAT’S how dynamic pricing works for the consumer.  You’ve just made a quantum leap in the process, wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it for myself.  Now prices are coming up for $11-1,200, mostly on Turkish Air, hubbing out of Istanbul, of course.

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