While many professions and trades know and clearly
state their billable hours, there are other chunks of time on which
businesses and consumers increasingly have to make independent
Consultants, accountants, attorneys and other professions have hourly
rates, often assigned to specific categories of members of the firm.
For example, the time of senior associates is valued (and billed) more
highly than junior staff.
Consumers of such services have clear choices. When someone
brings in a car for service, the hourly rate of labor is posted. One
can easily find the hourly rates of plumbers or electricians.
However, there are many other times that businesses and
individuals have to make calculated decisions about the value of time
versus the cost of that time on a case-by-case basis. Smart businesses
have been figuring out other ways to value customers’ time and put a
price on that time.
For example, booking some Delta Air Lines flights two weeks in
advance costs about half the price. For those travelers who take the
time to plan ahead, there is great savings. However, those who either
by choice or necessity decide to book closer to the trip dates must pay
for that decision.
Travelers face choices on overbooked airlines, which offer
vouchers valued at hundreds of dollars as long as they take a different
flight several hours later. The airline and the individual effectively
agree on the value of those hours, based on the value of the voucher.
Depending on the traveler’s situation, that value can vary widely.
With interest rates rising, some banks charge
home buyers varying fees to lock each available interest rate 30 or 60
days in advance. While there might be no fee to lock a rate of slightly
over 6 percent, a $3,000 fee might be charged to lock a rate at
slightly over 5 percent. The buyer essentially is paying for the time
between the present and the closing of the property.
After paying roughly $75 for entrance into Universal’s theme park in
Orlando, visitors can pay an equivalent amount for an Express pass to
bypass the long lines of most of the attractions. It’s similar to
nearby Disney World’s options; those who choose not to pay the extra
fee can insert their admission ticket at one attraction and receive a
designated time to return. However, during the time – often several
hours later – only one pre-planned booking is allowed. The time saved
by Universal Express pass buyers is perceived by them to be worth at
least another price of admission!
With time becoming more precious, more opportunities will arise to
calculate a value to time. Businesses and individuals are going to have
to think about relating the monetary value of time and ultimately the
best ways to spend it wisely.