As the trade enters the third month of the peak season, strong demand for this summer’s top European beach destinations has continued to drive sales.
Despite a little decline in branch foot traffic and booking numbers and some transactions requiring longer to convert, agents reported another strong selling week.
Although the trade reports that reservations for next year and beyond are increasing, summer sales have continued to account for the majority of business.
Mainland The most popular summer holiday spots continue to be Greece, Spain, the Balearic Islands, and the Canaries.
But, brokers also noted that prior seasons’ sales were boosted by cruises, Italy, the US, Australia, and New Zealand, which all had constant strong increases.
Premier Travel managing director Paul Waters said: “European beach destinations still remain the strongest product, however, the cruise had a very strong week for us and is one of the reasons we saw an increase in our 2024 and beyond departure business.”
Last week, 57% of Premier Travel’s sales were for this summer and 20% were for next year and beyond, up 5% from the previous week.
Waters said sales volumes had reduced in February compared with January but remained higher than normal for the month. “Last week, sales were still very strong and the same high percentage increases as we were getting in January,” he said.
Spear Travels saw footfall and booking volumes drop over the last fortnight but said average booking values had risen during February.
The school half terms spanning two different weeks across the agency chain’s branch locations had “naturally had an impact across our trading areas” said head of retail operations Natalie Turner.
June was the most popular departure month last week across Spear’s sales while the number of winter 2023 to 2024 bookings confirmed in February increased and there was a “relatively small demand” for holidays next year.
Hays Travel North West managing director Don Bircham said there was “no sign of sales dipping”, with last week’s sales 30% up on the same week last year. Cruise sales were strong while Tenerife, Palma and Alicante were the strongest performers for package holidays.
78% of reservations were made for the summer, 11% for late departures, and the remaining 11% were made for the upcoming winter and summer of 2024.
Working longer days was still the norm for agents, according to Jo Richards, director of Tivoli Travel, and administrative changes because of cancelled flights were still a problem.
She said: “Demand is still high; there’s no end in sight. But it’s a bit harder work as tour operators still haven’t got the staff and we’ve had flight changes so it’s normal to work until 8pm or 9pm most nights. We’re not moaning, it’s just the volume of work. I think it will continue like this.”
Daniele Broccoli, managing director, trade-only operator Typically Holidays, agreed and said bookings were taking longer to convert. “It’s calmed down a bit (from January) but it’s still busier than normal and we are working harder for the bookings. Clients go away and rethink, change their minds, and you have to requote,” he said.