The holidays are over and you’re already thinking about the next ones. No more sand, beach and cocktails, you say to yourself.

It’s hard to get back to the office, and the temptation is great to escape for a while longer by surfing the Internet to find your next dream holiday destination. But if you’re already thinking about buying your plane ticket and saying to yourself, the earlier I book, the cheaper it is, STOP! Don’t rush…

Revenue Management: the key principles

I often see articles answering the famous question « when to buy your plane ticket? », and my friends often ask me the same question.

The answer is often complicated, because it really depends! You’ll read that you need to plan ahead, and that’s true. The most elaborate articles will tell you « yes, but not too far in advance », and that’s also true. You’ll hear that you should try to « get your ticket on a Tuesday », that’s also true! On the other hand, if you are told that you should buy your ticket in the middle of the night or on a computer/mobile phone that you haven’t just searched, that’s not entirely true…

SNCF opens tickets 3 months in advance

Let me explain. While it’s generally true that the further in advance you buy your ticket, the cheaper it is, it’s not as simple as that; if you anticipate too much, you risk having higher prices! Yield managers cannot work on all the flights departing in the next year, as that would be too many. Flights are therefore opened up for sale, but at slightly higher prices to prevent them filling up too quickly at low prices without the analyst noticing. It is only when the flights fall within the scope of his work, around 3-4 months before departure for short-haul flights, that the low prices are put up for sale on the least popular flights. And if you’ve noticed that SNCF only opens its tickets for sale 3 months in advance, it’s precisely for this reason: to avoid selling at prices that haven’t yet been set correctly. This avoids a national controversy if prices are revised downwards along the way!

Now, while anticipating the purchase of your ticket does have an influence on its price, the day of the week and the time of day you buy your ticket have absolutely no bearing on Yield Management techniques. Some online agencies charge booking fees that vary according to these criteria, allowing them to advertise low or even free fees, but you’ll have to get up in the middle of the night to buy your ticket! We can’t stress this enough, but this is not Yield Management! At most, it’s a communication technique designed to manipulate the customer, in the same way as IP tracking, which leads you to believe that the price of the ticket is artificially increased when you carry out a search twice in a row from the same computer or mobile phone. See the article « Are Revenue Managers manipulators? ».

Finally, as far as « taking your ticket on a Tuesday » is concerned, you’ve understood that it means travelling on a Tuesday. I won’t be telling you anything new if I tell you that people prefer to go on holiday on Fridays or Saturdays rather than on Tuesdays. And less demand means lower prices! Go against the tide…

Our tips

But finally, it’s the end of summer, and you want to go to Guadeloupe next year, and you still don’t know the best time to buy your ticket!

I’ll try to give you a few examples, taken from advice I’ve given to my own friends or that I’ve applied to myself.

You are more interested in: Mediterranean islands in summer

Buy your ticket as soon as possible if you’re going during the school holidays.

The cheapest time to go is the end of August, with a return in early September. There’s no need to rush to buy your ticket in this case, as there will probably be special offers in June. Otherwise, buy in July!

You are more interested in: long-haul flights outside the school holidays

If you want to travel between September and mid-December, buy at the end of August/beginning of September, when there are often special offers. Keep an eye out for airlines serving your destination!

If you’re leaving between mid-January and April, buy in December or January. There are often promotions at the start of the Christmas period, so make the most of them!

And if you’re travelling in May-June, keep an eye out for possible promotions and buy your ticket in March, not later. This period is generally more popular and good prices are less easy to find. But if you travel between two public holidays, you might just find them!

You are more interested in: Europe’s capital for a weekend

If it’s a bank holiday, don’t wait to buy your ticket!

If your weekend is in winter, between November and March, there could be special offers up to a month in advance… Keep your eyes peeled and don’t rush.

For a departure between April and October, buy your ticket between 2 and 4 months before departure. Any earlier and you risk getting higher prices!

You are more interested in: visiting your family abroad at Christmas

Then you have no choice. Unless you straddle the school holidays, leaving before mid-December or returning after the beginning of January, you’ll pay a (very) high price. Buy as far in advance as possible!

You are more interested in: going to see my mates at the drop of a hat

During the « winter » air travel season, between November and March, low-cost airlines will take you anywhere at low prices, even if you buy your ticket a week in advance. The only condition: travel during the week!

We wish you good luck!

Keywords: Revenue Manager, Yield Management, holidays, travel, bookings