July 07, 2011 13:39 ET

"Flashcation" Checklist: Nine Expert Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes on Spontaneous Trip Buys

Spire Offers Advice on Navigating Flash-Sale Travel Sites This Summer

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - Jul 7, 2011) - Spire, a new limited-time luxury hotel deals site, coined the term "flashcation," which is defined as a trip that's booked spontaneously when a traveler finds an outrageously good deal. Evidence that the flashcation trend is picking up steam, a recent Spire poll found that nearly one-fourth of travelers wait until a good deal pops up in a destination they would enjoy before deciding where to go on vacation.

The rising popularity of flash-sale travel sites lends to the flashcation movement and gives travelers looking for deep discounts more ways to find great travel deals, but it also presents a big question for many travelers: Is this really the best booking decision? To help travelers answer this question, Spire created A Traveler's Checklist for Booking Flashcations, an important guide for those who might be a bit wary of booking a limited-time deal.

"Consumers should use these pointers when shopping on flash-sale travel sites in order to get the best deal and avoid pitfalls," Jennifer Gaines, Spire's senior travel editor and resident flashcation expert, said. "Before hitting the buy button, travelers do need to make sure they understand the offer and realize that not all flash-sale sites deliver the same customer experience."

A Traveler's Checklist for Booking Flashcations

Make flash-sales part of your booking strategy. Travelers don't want to miss out on a fantastic deal, so it's a good idea for them to peruse offerings on limited-time deals sites. Oftentimes, travelers will be able to find a four- or five-star hotel at a heavily discounted rate.

Act quickly when you see a deal. The deals found on private flash-sale sites are so deeply discounted that availability is limited and sales are short. Travelers should do their due-diligence quickly when they find a tempting offer.

Be sure the deal checks out. Travelers often wonder whether or not the limited-time deal is really in fact a deal. Spire is the first and only flash-sale travel site to offer a Best Deal Guarantee as a promise that its deals really are at least 30% off the lowest comparable offer.

Double-check your travel timing. Because hotels often utilize flash-sale sites to fill rooms during off-peak travel periods, make sure it is a good time to travel to that area of the world. Traveling during low season comes with benefits such as fewer crowds and cheaper price tags, but travelers should weigh the pros and cons before they book.

Know if you can change your mind. It's important for travelers to keep in mind that most flash-sale travel sites do not offer refunds or allow cancellations of any kind, but policies do vary. Spire allows cancellations for 72-hours after booking, just in case it was an impulse buy.

Expect something extra to boost the value. When travelers book through a private sale, they can often expect a little something extra to make the deal more alluring. Dig into the fine print to see what the offer includes and look for deals with a perk or two such as a room upgrade or a spa credit.

Consider the cost of getting there. Travelers shouldn't let spontaneity get in the way of doing all the research they need to do to make a confident buying decision. To make this easy for travelers, Spire included Kayak search functionality to check airfare in just one click.

Set your expectations. For hotels, the upside to offering limited-time deals on private sale sites is that they're able to fill rooms during slow times, so don't expect a deal to pop up during a busy holiday such as New Year's Eve.

Beware of the voucher system. When consumers purchase travel on a flash-sale site, they'll either get a guaranteed reservation like on Spire or receive a voucher to schedule their travel later. The voucher system requires travelers to make a booking by phone and often involves expiration and blackout dates, which can make it more difficult for consumers to redeem.

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