The discount booking platform might make sense for Costco members who know what they want. However, everyone else might be left out.
Traveling can be a daunting task, from planning your itinerary to finding the best deals and booking your flights and accommodations. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide which ones to choose. But for some who frequent one of America’s largest bulk shopping stores, there’s a little known travel booking platform to rival all the big ones: CostcoTravel
What is CostcoTravel?
CostcoTravel is a subsidiary of Costco Wholesale Corporation, one of the largest retailers in the world. It was established in 2000 and has since grown to become one of the most popular travel booking platforms available to Costco members. CostcoTravel provides a wide range of travel services, including vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, and hotel rooms, among others.
“We use our buying authority to negotiate the best value in the marketplace, and then pass on the savings to Costco members,” the service said on its website.
According to Chris Hendrix, the Assistant Vice President and General Merchandise Manager, Costco Travel offers carefully crafted vacation packages to a variety of destinations worldwide. These packages may consist of a combination of flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and other features to ensure a seamless and memorable travel experience.
One of the most significant advantages of using CostcoTravel is its competitive prices. The travel service leverages the buying power of Costco to negotiate discounts with travel suppliers, allowing them to offer some of the best prices in the market. In addition, CostcoTravel provides a number of added benefits to its customers, such as included extras and special perks that are not available when booking directly with travel suppliers.
For example, if you book a cruise through CostcoTravel, you may receive a credit to use on board or other perks such as free drinks, specialty dining, or onboard credits. Similarly, if you book a vacation package through CostcoTravel, you may receive included extras such as a resort credit, room upgrade, or complimentary breakfast.
Another advantage of CostcoTravel is its customer service. The platform provides access to experienced travel advisors who can assist with itinerary planning, booking, and any issues that may arise during the trip. The travel advisors are available to Costco members for free, and they can help with everything from selecting the best destination and hotel to handling any changes or cancellations to your itinerary.
Furthermore, Costco offers a variety of other travel-related services, such as travel insurance through their partner Zurich Travel, airport transportation, and sightseeing tours. This makes it a one-stop-shop for all your travel needs, saving you time and money in the process.
How to Use CostcoTravel
Using CostcoTravel is straightforward. Simply log in to the CostcoTravel website with your Costco membership information, and browse the available travel options. You can search for travel services based on your desired destination, travel dates, and budget. Once you find a travel package that meets your needs, you can book it directly through the website or call a travel advisor for assistance.
According to Kerry Mooneyham, the owner of Midwest Travel Solutions, while Costco Travel offers great value and convenience, it cannot replace the personalized guidance provided by a travel agent.
“You’re going to have the same cruise whether you book it directly with Carnival, you book it with Costco, or you book it with me,” she said. “The cruise is exactly the same. It’s the behind the scenes that we do things to make it better.”
She goes on to say that it can be a good fit for some travelers who already know what they want. “If you know exactly what you want, that’s a time where you might only be looking at, you know, ‘What’s the best value for me?’” Mooneyham says.
On the homepage of CostcoTravel, they feature pre-planned deals, and a “What’s Hot” section. Destinations range from tropical places, to Europe, cruises, and more. At the time of this publication, that section includes: Limited Time Deals, Weekend Getaways, Last-Minute Summer Travel, Riviera Maya: Hotel Xcaret Mexico Package, Dominican Republic: Majestic Colonial Package, and more Member-Only Savings.
Costco Travel Membership
It’s important to note that only Costco members can use the Costco Travel platform. Membership fees vary by country, but typically range from $60 to $120 per year. However, the membership fee pays for itself quickly as the savings on travel can often exceed the membership cost.
With the Gold Star Executive membership, which costs $120 a year, you’ll get additional Costco Travel benefits and 2% back (up to $1,000 in annual rewards) on qualifying Costco, Costco.com and Costco Travel purchases.
Downsides to Travel with Costco
While CostcoTravel offers great value and convenience, there are a few downsides to consider before booking a vacation package through the platform.
Firstly, vacation packages available through CostcoTravel may not be the cheapest option, and multi-day trips with airfare can run well over $1,000 per person. If cost is a top priority, it might be worthwhile to explore cheaper accommodations and flights elsewhere.
Secondly, while vacation packages may include some meals and benefits, they may not cover everything, leading to unexpected expenses during the trip. To avoid surprises, travelers can inquire about food costs beforehand and track expenses during their stay.
Some things to consider before booking is where you’re going, and what identification and passports you might need. For U.S. travelers vacationing abroad, it may be worth signing up for Global Entry before taking a trip.
Lastly, most of the hotels and resorts listed on CostcoTravel tend to be large, well-known properties with hundreds of rooms. While these properties offer convenient access to amenities such as coffee, food, and a gym, they may not offer the personalized experience and unique charm of smaller, boutique hotels.
In conclusion, CostcoTravel is an excellent travel booking platform, especially for those who know what they are looking for. They offer competitive prices, added benefits, and outstanding customer service. It’s a one-stop-shop for all your travel needs, and the experienced travel advisors can help you with everything from planning your itinerary to resolving any issues that may arise during your trip.
However, if you’re not a Costco member, need personalized help planning a vacation, or don’t want to stay at large chain hotels, then you may want to consider other travel booking platforms, or even contact a travel agent.