We have a number of helpers scheduled to arrive this week, and we are running into great difficulty getting them here on time. Their employers are angry because the flights are being rescheduled, and we are scrambling to get the helpers to HK on time. Who is to blame? I'm not big on blame, but we are doing everything we can to get helpers here as scheduled.
The week after Easter (it turns out) is the high season. Summer vacation in the Philippines begins in April. Helpers from HK who went home over the holiday are all returning to work. The airlines are taking advantage of the situation to raise their prices!
Airlines change ticket prices constantly based on demand. If a ticket has not been issued, even though you have a booking, they can raise the price on you at will. That is what is happening now. The airlines are doubling or tripling the price of tickets. We had ladies booked to fly, but the tickets have not been issued, because the helpers need to have what is called an OEC certificate before they are allowed to fly. If the Manila agency issues the tickets and the lady doesn't receive her OEC, then she can't fly, and the agency will have to pay a hefty penalty to change the ticket (penalties now are so stiff, that it is better to throw the ticket away and buy a new one.)
The Manila agency, that schedules our flights, has a budget of around HK$865 per ticket. The price has suddenly jumped to more than $2000 for a one way ticket. Some of our customers are understanding, others are saying "But you said they should arrive on this date and that is when we want them."
So we are faced with the awkward choice of either losing a lot of money or making the employer wait for a week. What a mess!
As we look at the future, we may have to move to a two-tier pricing, where we charge a higher fee to guarantee that a woman can arrive within 10 weeks; and our normal fee if the customer is willing to wait for 12 weeks. This would allow us to book and issue tickets for the helpers early on, when the prices are guaranteed to be affordable. Customers who want their helpers to arrive sooner, would be asked to pay a higher fee, so we would be protected against airline fare hikes.
What do you think? We would welcome your suggestions and feedback.