18

Eurotunnel offer different fare rates depending on how long your trip is. For example, their cheapest is the day trip / overnight rate. Next is the short trip, and finally is the "long" stay.

The question is, why do they offer this? What possible difference could it make to Eurotunnel to charge me less if I come back sooner?

21

Traditionally it's so that people can drive across for the day to load up on cheap booze in Calais, either for themselves or (illegally) for resale. That's been a source of business for the tunnel and ferry operators for many years.

(People on day shopping trips are highly price sensitive as they're only making the trip in order to make money on the tax differential between France and the UK).

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    Thanks! Any reference maybe, for instance a news article talking about this phenomenon? – nic Mar 16 '15 at 7:35
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    Just google "booze cruise calais", you'll find huge numbers of articles on it! – Gagravarr Mar 16 '15 at 11:45
27

Price discrimination. Eurotunnel has figured out that there are different markets for different types of stays, who will pay different amounts, so they set prices accordingly.

See also: Why are plane tickets more expensive if they don't include a weekend?

And Wikipedia goes into this in detail: Price discrimination

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    @monkjack in his answer, jpatokal mentions "different markets", and while it is not detailed, it is not limited to business and non-business travellers, as the linked answer suggests. I suppose if you stay 5 days, you have a budget of say 5x100 euros, if you stay 1 day you have a budget of 1x100 euros (these amounts are examples). So the traveller for 5 days is more likely to accept to pay a higher price for his train ticket (say 20 extra euros in 500 is OK). There are probably other "markets" some people are paid to determine. – Vince Mar 15 '15 at 22:46
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    What sort of "evidence" are you looking for? Leaked pricing strategy docs from Eurotunnel? Having special rates for short trips is very common, eg. a Silja Line one-night cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm and back often goes for €50, while a pair of one-way tickets will set you back >€300. – jpatokal Mar 15 '15 at 23:03
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    @monkjack start with this wikipedia article about pricing and follow the links. In short, companies have a Revenue Management department where people's job is to figure any way to "optimize" the price of your tickets in order to get the maximum revenue out of you. So if there is any single thing that went through your mind to explain the increase, I am certain someone tried it to see if it brought money. – Vince Mar 16 '15 at 2:53
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    @monkjack The linked answers have nothing to do with weekends. Every company wants to charge as much as they can get away with. Asking customers how much they're willing to pay won't get honest answers; however, if companies notice that people fitting some criterion are willing to pay more, they can charge more to people meeting the criterion. All that's needed for Eurotunnel's policy is that for whatever reason, people staying longer are willing to spend more on train trips than people staying shorter; they don't really care why. – cpast Mar 16 '15 at 5:26
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    @Lohoris Correct! Play around with the booking engine if you don't believe me: tallinksilja.com/en/web/int/book-a-cruise But if you "don't return" to your cruise too often, they'll eventually twig on and stop letting you on board. – jpatokal Mar 16 '15 at 9:54

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