One of the biggest fears I see my friends and co-workers have is the fear of asking for what they want. I am guilty of this myself. Asking for what we want is awkward and intimidating. Many times we are afraid to ask because we are afraid of what others will think or say. Whether its for a salary increase, job promotion, or advice on a new business, we all fear rejection. Me personally, I have always feared denial when asking a girl out and what others think of my ideas.
However, I recently read “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20” by Tina Seeling that brought to light a story about a gentleman who was nothing special but always seemed to have dates with very attractive and intelligent woman . When asked how he scored dates, he simply explained that he asked every girl he met and was interested in on a date. This gentleman explained that he got denied all the time but that every so often one would say yes. This man is a genius. He discovered early on, that all is takes is one yes. All he did was ask for what he wanted.
If you want to get the best prices while traveling, all you need to do is ask for what you want. Below are the best ways that I have found to get the best prices while traveling abroad.
One of easiest things to do is to ask what others paid for the things you want. Whenever I check into a hostel, I start conversations with random people and eventually learn about where they have been, what they have done, and most importantly what they paid. Locals will try to find the price that you are willing to pay for the value you receive. This is a value-based pricing tactic and all tourist pricing is value-based pricing which many times results in high mark-up prices and room to negotiate.
The best story I have is from when I went to book a day tour to the Sacred Valley in Peru. I asked how much the tour was and they wanted 90 soles or around $30. I respectfully smiled and said I would pay 25 soles which was around $8 at the time. The tourist lady laughed and responded “inteligente gringo” or intelligent tourist (a nice way to put it) and accepted my offer. Now the reason I knew how much to pay was because I asked several people at my hostel how much they paid for that tour. Many of them said 30 soles. Therefore, I knew I could probably negotiate the tour for a little less.
Ask Multiple Vendors
Before I every buy something abroad, specifically goods or tourist packages, I ask multiple vendors how much they want for there product. It’s crazy but I have gotten price fluctuations of over 500% for the same product! In Peru I went to buy a blanket for my mother and asked different vendors their prices. I heard ranges from $10 to $40. For the same blanket! I then went back to the vendor who was asking $10 and negotiated it down to $8 by telling them I had alternatives. It is not disrespectful and in many cultures a powerful negotiator is respected.
Show them the Cash
Whenever you negotiate in local markets, offer the vendor your price and then show the vendor the cash. Never show the vendor more that what you want to pay for the product. Always show them the exact amount you are willing to pay. If you show the vendors more cash than you are willing to pay, they will try to get more money out of you. Its human instinct to accept an offer on something when you see the cash.
Find an Alternative
Last semester in my Persuasion and Negotiation course we spent several hours on the concept of finding a BATNA. A BATNA is your best alternative to the negotiated agreement. When looking to negotiate overseas, you must have a BATNA. If you do not have a better alternative to what you are negotiating for, you simply have no power in the negotiation. Before negotiating a better price, be sure you have an alternative option.
Lastly, get creative in your negotiations. Before you lock in a rate on anything overseas, take time to think how you could gain additional value for free. The best creativity I found was how to negotiate better rates at hostels.
If I am staying for at least five nights at a hostel, Ill ask for a free night before booking. If it is down season or the hostel is not booked up, you will get that free night because they need your business! Also, I noticed early into my travels that if I wanted to extend my stay at a hostel, I would be locked in at the rate I paid online for my previous night. However, keep in mind when you book online, booking websites charge a service fee, sometimes as much as 20%. Therefore, when asking to stay for additional nights, ask for a discount since the hostel is not paying a service fee. The hostels will initially say no. But if follow up with saying you are going to rebook online, you will be surprised at the discount you will get to avoid paying the service fees! It has worked every time for me.
Overall, traveling abroad has taught me a value lesson. Never being afraid to ask for what you want in life. While I have had my fair share of awkward moments asking for what I want, I have been overall been successful in negotiating. Asking for what you want and trying strategies like the ones above, can save you hundreds of dollars abroad!