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For last second fares, watch for United's Twares
Sure it's just another marketing technique, but where travel consumers and producers can really benefit is in the wholesaling of last minute capacity.
In United Airline's case, the product is called a Tware. We first covered these Twitter Fares around this time last year, and since its inception the concept has really taken off.
In a nutshell, here's how Tware's work: Airline capacity managers identify a group of routes that are significantly undersold over a period of time, say, all flights from the US to Australia over the course of June. Knowing that there's a low probability of all of those seats being sold at the current market prices, the capacity managers block off a bucket full of seats on select flights, heavily discount the fares and call the folks at the Twitter desk.
At the count of three, cheap seats open up and an advertisement goes on Twitter announcing that "A Tware to Australia!" has started. 70,000 highly focused, highly motivated followers suddenly tune in, everyone starts booking and the seats sell like hotcakes.
In the end, United makes some cash, when they formerly would have been flying empty seats and a few passengers get a great deal on tickets. Oh, and United gets a ton of free PR.
The only catch? Since the airline is clearing out empty seats most Twares are for travel within the next month or two. But if you're flexible, adventurous and have a few extra dollars the formula is perfect for a quick jaunt to paradise.
You can follow @unitedairlines to tune into upcoming Twares. Be forewarned that most Twares only last a few hours, so have your credit card and calendar ready!
[Image credit, Pylon757]