Online travel auctions are basically online markets or bazaars. The only difference is that in the case the wares sold are actually travel vacation packages.
Just as is so in any auction (online or off) sellers of vacations can offer one item at a time or multiple lots of the same item (known as Dutch or English auctions) Depending on which site you are on the travel package must go to the highest common denominator.
On almost all travel auction sites the seller of the vacation package can set a minimum bid. This is called the reserve price, which is the lowest price that the seller will accept for the deal. Some auction travel sites disclose the reserve-bidding price during the auction and others don’t. How exactly some of these sites work is explained in more detail later on in this book.
The bidding for each travel auction both opens closes at a scheduled time. You’ll be alerted via e-mail if someone outbids you, and then it’s decision time. Don’t get carried away. Decide in advance on the maximum amount you’ll spend, and stick to it. Getting swept away by the competitive spirit that is generated by online bidding has led many people to pay more than market value for what is supposed to be a discounted vacation package!
After the bidding closes it is automatically disclosed who the highest bidder is. . In the case of sales of multiple lots, the participants with the highest bids at the close of the auction are obligated to buy the items.
On some travel sites if no one bids at or above the reserve price, the auction closes without a winner. If there is a reserve price for your bid that is less (for instance one dollar on a reserve bid of ten dollars) it usually not even accepted by the site’s software.
At the close of a successful auction, the buyer and seller communicate, usually by e-mail, to arrange for payment and information about your travel package. It is usually at this point that it is revealed exactly where you are going along with any caveats such as black out dates for travel, fees, taxes and site charges.
Most travel auction sites offer all types of different payment options including credit card, debit card, personal check, cashier’s check, money order, cash on delivery and escrow services.
However, not all sellers of vacation packages on auction sites accept all of the forms of payment just mentioned; payment methods are usually thoroughly explained in the FAQ, Help or fine print sections on the auction travel web site itself.