I tend to agree with you. The Atlantic makes for a formidable barrier. Yet these days with jet planes and the Internet, things are a lot easier than before for travelers. I forgot to mention that I booked all my flights around Europe on Ryanair on-line. So, I got exactly the same cheap rates while sitting at my computer at home in Toronto, as anyone in England or Ireland would have got by walking into a Ryan office. So, it no longer matters where you happen to be located when it comes to booking and paying for flights. Similarly, buying a travel package for a luxury resort/hotel on LL can obviously also be done by anyone located anywhere in the world who has access to a computer and the Internet. Frankly, I fail to see what you deem to be the problem.
It sounds like you've been much luckier than I have in terms of purchasing tickets in other countries. Ryanair is an internet-only airline (there is no such thing as a Ryanair office) and, from what you have said, is unusually flexible about allowing people from overseas to book on their site. Unfortunately, I've encountered problems with trying to purchase from a number of airline websites which refused to take my credit card because I didn't have a billing address in the country of the flight's origin. One of them did have a UK affiliate site -- where the prices were three times higher than those available in the country of origin.
Aside from the pricing thing, there's a practical issue to consider -- a US-based airline used by with a package might not offer any flights from Europe to the package destination, or might only have routings which involve a long and expensive detour to the US.
I think the best way forward for everyone on both sides of the pond would be for LL to affiliate with one of the big airline alliances (Star Alliance, One World, or SkyTeam). There would be enough airlines involved to ensure that most buyers would be able to book a reasonably direct flight from their country of origin to the package destination. Perhaps the flight add-on could be 'economy/business/first class flights on the most direct route from the buyer's country of origin' or something like that, rather than the current 'flights from Los Angeles' that you see with some of the Asian packages. The alliance could then become the 'official airline alliance of Luxury Link', and maybe there could be some perks for LL package passengers, like a pre-departure glass of champagne even when flying in coach.
Seems some of our travel and flight experiences have been quite different. I appreciate that there may be a number of unforeseen obstacles or difficulties to deal with and to overcome when trying to put together a multi-sourced package that involves land and air-based components. While I'm entirely comfortable and happy continuing to use Ryanair for my flights within Europe, I would like to see, as another available option, your suggestion implementedfor an affiliation between LL and and one or more of the 'big airline alliances. This could work very well if properly planned and executed. And, I really like the pre-departure champagne idea. Cheers!
There used to be a saying, "No gegative comments during brainstorming." Still, the conversation seems to be veering away from the pragmatic towards the theoretical. Ask yourself "What's in it for them?" For the individual airline, or the alliance. Each of whom already has a frequent flyer program, and various upgrade incentives. Why would an airline give reduced tix to LL except as a way to call attention to a new route, or if the tix were subsidized by a national tourist agency.
It seems to me that the strength of LL is in the auctions--real and demonstrable savings that the individual traveler can achieve. The current issue of the Conde Nast Traveler has a piece on LL and Andrew Harper, confirming what many have deduced: that the strength of the savings and the appeal--of both organizations-- is in their auctions, while the packages rarely offer significant savings.
I suggest that LL concentrate on auction paclkages, with a dual emphasis. On the one hand, places where the dollar is weak--and thus the package may be said to offset the poor currency exchange--and on the other. places where the dollar is (still) relatively strong, where the package functions as an added inducement. For the first, see the UK, Ireland,France and various euro nations. For the second, countries from the former Soviet bloc, and within South America, from Mexico to Argentina. As the CN article underscores, to assay the real savings on a package, you have to verify that what you're getting really is uniquely available through LL and not from a hotel web site or other source. And that nay built-in feratures are meaninghful to you. If youjudge aromatherapy to be an experience best avoided, having it offered to you doesn't really enhance the travel/package experience.
Thwew two most appealing package elements to m e are: breakfast, and airport transfers.The former is always a great convenience, while the latter varies. Not terroibly important in Buenos Aires, where te cab ride to your hotel is likely to be $20, but of considerable significance in London, where the ride is probably $100.
Amittedly, these observations are from a U.S. vantage point. If I were sitting on a pile of GBPs I might have a different perspective,
Interesting comments in your post. Though I agree with you that the auctions offered on LL are its principal drawing point, I feel that they'd be much more attractive if there were 'flexible packages' also available that allowed potential bidders a broader range of options than just bidding on a property/resort/hotel for their accommodations. Making airfare part of such a package, either as an integral part of the initial offering or as an adjunct by means of a parallel auction, would provide a 'value-added' total auction experience. Other components that would also serve the same purpose would include such things as breakfast and taxi fare (as you've suggested). These changes to the current situation at LL, would in my opinion, be appealing to any prospective travel bidder, regardless of their home location or the relative strength of their own currency.
You've made some good points, particularly in terms of what's in it for the airline. I've seen some airline adverts on LL's site (notably for Lufthansa) so there are apparently some airlines which are interested in attracting the attention of LL community members and LL bidders, but not a huge number.
I agree that LL's strength is the auctions rather than the 'buy now' packages which don't usually offer better value than what you can obtain direct with the property.
What might work well is having a 'menu' of options for the packages from which the auction winner could pick two or three, rather than the current 'meals for two' and 'couples massages' which tend to predominate (this would also make the packages much better value for single travellers, killing two birds with one stone). This would be a minimal burden from an administrative standpoint for both LL and the properties, and would enhance the package value by enabling auction winners to choose those things which add the most value to their stay.
Your suggestion for a 'menu of options' is brilliant! It's just the sort of thing that I was trying to describe in some of my earlier posts on this topic. Being able to choose from more than just the usual options, would not only enhance the appeal of the auction packages but would also allow the winner to tailor-make it to suit their own likes, tastes, interests, time-frame and travel schedule. I fervently hope that the LL Moderators will take note of this great idea of yours and implement it as soon as possible. In my own case, I just bid on and won an LL auction for a four-night stay at a luxury mountain lodge in the Canadian Rockies and would have appreciated the opportunity to choose from a menu of options, including such items as: a rental car anda meal plan.
Some things I'd like to see on the menu are meals (either at the hotel if their restaurant is good, or at a good restaurant at the destination), airport transfers, and metro/tube passes (in most European cities, you don't want to drive if you can avoid it).
JK Place's offers often include VIP tickets for some of Florence's museums which are great -- being able to get VIP tickets for places like the Louvre or St Peter's in Rome or the Secrets Tour at the Doge's Palace in Venice would be great. Special exhibition tickets would be quite attractive as well though they might not have as broad an appeal to people.
Me too. The more good options available as part of an LL auction package the better. The sort of things you mention can't help but enhance the travel experience. I've seen just this sort of thing offered on other sites (like skyauction) where in addition to the accommodation/flight that you bid on, there are several possible add-ons at additional cost (often quite minimal) that you may choose if you wish. Looks like JK Place is another site that already provides this desirable feature.Let's hope LL takes note.
I posted this elsewhere, but it is relevant for this topic as well. My fiancee and I wanted to stay 6 days at the Cotton Tree Lodge in Belize, but the only packages available for 2 people on LL were for 4 days. We purchased 2 packages, and when we booked, we asked if we could trade out those two days we didn't want for an upgrade in accommodations (to the Honeymoon Cabana). The Lodge was happy to do it. While this doesn't necessarily make things THAT much more flexible, we found that bargaining with the property got us somewhere. Others might have similar luck in tailoring their packages a bit without having to pay extra for it.