Photo Credit: Photo caption: Gary John Norman
Inside Costco Travel: Could the Bulk Retailer Save You Big?
As summer approaches, many individuals and families are looking for their next adventure. Costco, the renowned membership warehouse club, offers a hidden gem in its array of offerings: Costco Travel. Beyond its reputation for bulk groceries and household goods, the brand provides numerous alternatives for those planning a trip.
But what lies behind the brand? According to the company’s website, “We use our buying authority to negotiate the best value in the marketplace and then pass the savings along to Costco members.”
In other words, utilizing its buying authority to negotiate the best value in the marketplace, the travel company passes on the savings to its members.
In an interview with USA Today, Assistant Vice President and General Merchandise Manager Chris Hendrix explains that this includes thoughtfully curated vacation packages to various locations worldwide. “Our buyers carefully inspect and select each resort and feature included in these packages… to ensure the highest quality and best value,” he said.
According to Hendrix, vacationers are not limited to booking hotel rooms when planning a trip to the United States; they can also book cruises, and rental cars, and create custom itineraries to any number of cities across the country. Whether customers book online or over the phone, a reservation agent is available to assist them before, during, and after their trips.
The Pros and Cons
While Costco Travel can serve as a good intermediary, it is not a substitute for consulting a professional travel agent. The travel company employs over a thousand specialists who focus on cruises, Hawaii, European vacations, and other areas. However, it’s worth noting that Costco has a limited selection of hotels and hotel brands, and it only offers car rentals through Avis, Alamo, Budget, and Enterprise. Additionally, customization options and vacation packages may not be available for every possible location.
When it comes to flights, the company allows customers to book flights as part of premade vacation packages or customize them to suit individual needs. However, at present, independent flight bookings are not available through Costco Travel.
To use Costco Travel, a current Costco membership is required. Costco’s website states that annual membership fees range from $60 to $120 before sales tax is added. “Many of our programs offer Costco Travel members an exclusive Costco Shop Card for their travel purchase, which they receive once their travel is completed and can be used in the warehouse or online at Costco.com,” Hendrix added. Additionally, Costco Executive members are eligible for a 2% annual reward on travel purchases made through Costco Travel, up to $1,000.