Korean Travel Agents - 39
Travel Agents experience in Seoul
The situation with Korean travel agents is very unique. I have never seen a system like it in any country and having studied a Degree in Tourism Business, I still cannot find logic in it but, I guess that is my problem; Koreans seem happy with the system so I guess as a foreigner in Korea I should accept it as well, to be fair. The peculiar thing is that in Korea, if you ask a travel agency for a flight quote, they always tell you that they cannot tell you the exact price until one month before, but that they can reserve your seat on the flight or even a few different flights if you want.
You can even give your credit card details and they will charge you once they know the price. Even when you call a month before, they often struggle to quote you a price. This system is completely different to other countries, whereby you would usually get a cheaper priced ticket for booking earlier. APEX (Advanced Purchase Excursion) tickets are common worldwide, but in Korea it is the exact opposite whereby you get a discount if you book a few weeks before only. You can book a ticket early but you would pay a far too high a price. The reasoning behind this Korean system is due to two factors:
Organised package tours are very popular with Koreans because Koreans love to try and squeeze in as many things as possible into their short vacation time and going on a package tour helps them to do this. Package tours take up a lot of the flight seats and thus the prices, which one gets quoted in the last few weeks before a flight, are the leftover flights that would have been otherwise used by the package tours.
A lot of Koreans are unable to organise their holidays more than a few months in advance, due to their work situation. Work and career is always a far greater priority for Koreans and if a big project is on at work, the employees are often expected to ensure its completion, often even ahead of family time, vacations and commitments.