There is no such thing as a cheap balloon ride!
Look out for the ticket sellers,
Sky Ride, Soaring Adventures, Groupon, Sportations, Adrenalin 360, Bilateral, Thrilliant, Rush Cube and many more are just ticket sellers. Many of these companies have never been in a balloon. Many of the people hired to answer the phone have never been in a balloon and NONE OF THEM even OWN a balloon.
Things to look out for.
- Are they the pilot? Do they have a pilot you can talk to?
If they don't have a pilot you can talk to HANG UP. If they offer to have a pilot call you back then ask them to do so.
- Do they want money up front?
If they want money up front be very weary, Do you stop at the grocery store on the way home and give them $200 just in case you want to go shopping this weekend? This is a weather dependent service. If you pay in advance, they may have your money for MONTHS before you get to fly. Unless you are Purchasing a Gift Certificate to give to someone you really should not pay in advance.
- Is the deal way cheaper than in other places.
What are they cutting out to be so cheap? People like Groupon will sell you a cheap ticket in hopes that you will forget about it and never redeem it. Here is what they tell the balloon ride provider. "Yes you will get less money than what it costs you to fly these people but you get to keep the money from 20% who will never redeem". This theory has destroyed many companies because the redemption rate has been nearly 100%. Imagine selling 1000 tickets for $40 less than what it actually costs to fly the people. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure out that is a $40,000 hole in your bank account. When the company goes out of business you are left with NOTHING. Another way to lower cost is to have massive size balloons. There are balloons that are so big they carry 20 to 24 passengers at one time. By doing this they can lower the cost of the ride but consider a couple of things. First do you really want to share your special, bucket list event with 18 strangers? Second, the bigger the balloon the harder it is to fly. Just like driving a boat. It is easier to navigate a John Boat than it is to drive a Cruse Ship. So be very weary of a cheap balloon flight.
- Where do they fly?
Where are your launch locations? What area will we fly over? They should be able to give you some details. Yes the balloon flies with the wind and every day is different but.... If they are a real balloon ride operation they should be able to give you some details on their flying area. If they can not you are dealing with a ticket seller and not a real balloon company.
- Where do they meet the passengers?
If they respond with "It depends on where you choose to fly". Be very suspicious, you may be dealing with a ticket seller. Most balloon companies will have a specific spot they will meet the passengers. The meeting spot could be a hotel, park, buisness or some specific location you can look up on a map. How else are you going to get your balloon ride if there is no location to meet the pilot and ground team. If they can not give you a specific location to meet then you are likely dealing with a ticket seller.
- Do a web search on the phone number.
A great way to determine if you are dealing with a ticket seller is to do a Google Search on the phone number. We have found a couple of what looked like balloon companies that had over 350 websites with the same phone number an the record holder was over 550 websites. These sites offer balloon rides in hundreds of areas around the country where there are NO BALLOONIST'S AT ALL. After they STEAL your money they will then tell you that you must drive 200 miles to the nearest provider. Dont believe us then do a search for this phone number 800-611-1298 and see what you get. That's right about 350 locations! Does that sound real? Or better yet, there are no balloonists who live or fly in Fargo ND. Do a search for balloon ride in Fargo ND and guess who you find. RUN AWAY FAST..
All over the United States balloon ride operators are refusing to take the vouchers from these ticket sellers. The ticket sellers owe thousands of dollars to providers and cant pay them. This is causing many actual balloon companies to refuse to fly these tickets. So if you are not careful you will purchase a ticket you can not use! You will also have a horrible battle to get your money back. So do a little research up front and save yourself from a horrible experience.
You are right now in the perfect place to find a real balloon ride. HotAirBalloonist.com is a Balloon Resource for the general public! You can find Balloon Rides by going to the Member Map and zooming in on your part of the country. The Pins in the map are color coded. Yellow Pins are balloon ride operations, Green pins are Balloon Festivals and so on. Just zoom in on the location you wish to fly and click on a pin. A Pop up will open with information on the service provider in that area. You can also use the Balloon Rides forum to find providers listed by state. There is also a Balloon Events calendar where you can find festivals all over!
HotAirBalloonist.com was designed specifically so the General Public can find real Balloonist's all over the country and soon the world.
Remember, Tell them you found them on HotAirBalloonist.com
Are you a Balloon Ride Operation? Join us! Create your own advertisement about your balloon rides here on HotAirBalloonist.com. Here is a link to a Members page in the Arizona Forum of the Rides Category. Follow this link to get an idea of what you can create for yourself.
Here is a link to the membership details page, about what a Ride Operators membership has to offer. Remember we will verify that you are a real operator, but if you are, become part of our network. A Balloon Ride Operator membership is only $45 a YEAR! If you sell one flight you have paid for your membership and still receive all the the other benefits of the site.