In many countries where local transport may be difficult, or with a reputation for bad cabbies, hotels often provide airport transfers at a charge. The fee varies widely and in many cases is more than a normal (non-rip-off) cab fare, sometimes much more. This makes sense as you are paying for the driver to also head to the airport and wait for you. Depending on the circumstances these can be very good value, or not so good.
Factors I take into account include:
- cost difference
- potential for being ripped off by regular cabs
- alternative public transport - mode, cost and convenience (a cheap alternative that requires multiple changes and still need a cab at the end is generally unappealing)
- time of day of arrival or departure (more likely to use other transport in the middle of the day than in the middle of the night)
- ability to earn hotel stay program points on the transfer (some allow it and some don't)
- convenience of charging to room instead of paying in cash (eg if I wouldn't otherwise need to change some money I may pay a bit over the odds for transfer for the convenience)
- time I have available
- at some places paying for their expensive airport transfers has resulted in a "free" room upgrade or extra amenities (eg late check out)
After booking a room for part of an upcoming trip I received an email from the hotel asking if I wanted to book an airport transfer. The cost of the transfer is more than the cost of the room, and about 50 times the cost of using the public bus which conveniently stops near the hotel. I think I'll pass this time.