Dynamic pricing based on search volume?

Old Aug 31, 18, 8:38 pm
  #1  
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Dynamic pricing based on search volume?

I used the Amtrak iOS app to search for fares on a one-way trip from CHI-NYP (48 LSL) in October 2018. The roomette price was displayed as “$489 - 1 room left”.

At that point, I was interrupted before booking and returned about 5 minutes later to search on my laptop, and then got the following for the roomette: “$580 - 1 room left”.

Thinking it it was because I was “signed in” on the app it gave me a better price, I went back to the app just a couple minutes later and searched again: now “$689 - 1 room left” for the roomette.

(The coach seat price in each instance, not part of the above figures, didn’t change, nor did the exact date/train)

What gives? Does Amtrak figure search volume into the dynamic pricing of a fare? Trying to wring out extra revenue from a “desired” itinerary search? Note that there was always 1 room quoted as being available.

Anyone else seen this? Thanks.

edit: maybe the coach seat amount was changing and I didn’t notice (affecting the total), but I did notice the roomette changing.

Last edited by omahajim; Aug 31, 18 at 8:55 pm
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Old Sep 1, 18, 2:18 pm
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Originally Posted by omahajim View Post
edit: maybe the coach seat amount was changing and I didn’t notice (affecting the total), but I did notice the roomette changing.
A sleeper fare always has a rail fare set at the lowest bucket (not Saver) coach price, so unless the low bucket coach price was changing, that wasn't it.
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Old Sep 1, 18, 9:44 pm
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I haven't seen it happen before, and frankly I'd be surprised if Amtrak's booking system is up to date enough to do that effectively!

What I'm guessing happened is that Amtrak only allocated one more room at each of the lower fare buckets, and each time you did a search the system was grabbing that room and not quickly releasing it back into inventory when you abandoned the search. Because of that, each search was grabbing a new room and finding it at the next higher price point. I'm not sure how quickly rooms get released back into inventory after being put in someone's cart online/through the app, but at worst I'd expect them to release the rooms back each night.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 1:04 pm
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Originally Posted by jebr View Post
What I'm guessing happened is that Amtrak only allocated one more room at each of the lower fare buckets, and each time you did a search the system was grabbing that room and not quickly releasing it back into inventory when you abandoned the search.
That explanation makes a lot of sense, jebr.
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