About 30% of the cost of everything you buy goes to advertising and marketing. Sometimes it’s over 80%.
Too Cheap to Advertise
The only way to consistently avoid paying for advertising is to stay below the marketing radar. Backpackers always seem to get so much more for their money because they are getting much more for their money.
Public buses are mandated so they don’t need to advertise. Hostels and dorms compete fiercely on price so they can’t afford to advertise relying instead on word of mouth. Sodas can fill up based on location and local reputation and advertising would probably be very ineffective anyway so they don’t.
In general the more something costs the larger the percentage going to marketing.
Get What you Pay For
As a consumer you’re probably going to pay the 30% one way or another so think about what you want to get out for what you pay in to marketing.
If you want the ease and convenience of booking through Expedia then pay your 30% to them. If you want a 24/7 emergency contact, professional planning and up-front pricing pay the 30% to a travel professional.
If you want the flexibility of winging it then book direct and pay cash and your 30% will end up going to the hotel. You didn’t think TripAdvisor gives them all that publicity for free did you? Small businesses have marketing costs that they have to recoup too.
The one sure way to be taken advantage of is to believe that any business can stay in business if you get a bargain and they don’t get something in return. Occasionally you might get lucky and take advantage of a loss leader promotion (low price to attract new clients) but it’s unlikely when traveling to Costa Rica because there’s so much to see and do that even return visitors rarely go back to the same places.
Take Advantage of Illegal Activities
Seriously?! Yes, seriously. The most recent wave of “tech” success stories tout the geniuses behind Uber, AirB&B and other “sharing” platforms but in fact it’s a very simple formula.
Find a law that costs businesses money then facilitate individuals breaking that law so they can offer the same goods or services at a lower price by avoiding costly safety and regulatory compliance. Then you’re labeled a genius, get all sorts of free publicity in the news and on financial websites effectively eliminating the need for advertising.
When eight or ten college students invade the apartment above you with sleeping bags and cases of beer before every home basketball game at the local university you’ll probably wish you had one of those genius’ phone numbers to make a complaint because you’re probably not going to get any help from the bureaucracy of the local zoning board. But hey, it’s a free market…maybe you need to move if you don’t like the neighborhood anymore.
For now join the revolution and get your next ride from the airport or stay in a condo tower for half price without paying all those pesky taxes, regulatory fees or safety costs…it’s mostly the seller who’s breaking the laws and flaunting the ordinances so you’re unlikely to be prosecuted.
Another way to get the most out of your travel dollar is to reserve early. Last minute airfares are notoriously high.
Most lodge, resort and hotel prices don’t vary much in Costa Rica, but you can get more for your money by reserving early because the selection is better then. The higher quality properties fill up so if you wait you may be stuck with second rate or a back corner room.
If you’ve got a lot of flexibility and travel in May, or September through November (low season) there’s also a chance that waiting until the last minute might snag you a bargain as businesses try to fill rooms or seats on a raft.