Ask the operator: how to sell short-haul winter sunshine

Travel Weekly asks three top short-haul specialists about peaks and popular destinations for winter sun
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Michael Vinales, managing director, Olympic Holidays

Michael has been director of sales and revenue at Olympic Holidays since 2017, and has more than 35 years’ experience in the travel industry including roles at Monarch, Thomas Cook and Sunworld. Before joining Olympic, Michael was product and commercial director at Cosmos.

Michael Vinales

Customers are choosing to upgrade when booking

Here at Olympic Holidays we’ve seen a steady increase in bookings since the start of 2022 but last week was certainly our busiest time on the phones, with our sales team handling large numbers of enquiries and quotes.

As well as seeing bookings to the Canaries picking up for winter, we’ve noticed that Egypt has also picked up in the past week, with bookings to popular resorts including Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh on the rise.

Travel is mainly in March with some bookings pushing into April too. Why go? For all these destinations, you’re guaranteed warm weather and sun, and for travel over the coming months we are also offering some really great deals that are brilliant value for money.

We’re noticing too that although good value is still extremely important, customers are choosing to upgrade when booking and there has been a good mix of four and five-star hotel and resort bookings, along with self-catering holidays.

It’s clear that people have missed their holidays in the past few years. Confidence is building and there’s certainly an air of hope and positivity emerging. For customers looking for reassurance, Olympic Holidays is Abta and Atol-protected, so their money is safe.

We offer free amendments if customers need to change a booking, deposits from just £89 and a full refund guarantee, so customers can book with confidence.

Ask the expert 1

Brad Bennetts, head of trade distribution, easyJet holidays

Brad is easyJet Holidays’ head of trade distribution and has been working for the tour operator for 18 months. He was formerly senior sales operations manager at Kuoni after starting at the company in April 2016 as national sales manager.

Brad Bennets

Benidorm and Sharm are particularly popular

Lots of people want to plan a getaway and we’ve seen significant increases in bookings by customers looking to make the most of our Big Orange Sale.

Since the news that the testing regime is being made more straightforward, we’ve seen winter-sun bookings increase by 220%, with the most popular destinations being Spain and Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

After two years of people missing out on holidays it’s no surprise that we’re seeing increased demand for destinations like Majorca and Dalaman across 2022 too. Benidorm and Sharm el-Sheikh are particularly popular for this winter due to having fewer restrictions and more-straightforward entry requirements.

We know from our own research that holidaymakers want and need increased flexibility and protection, so it’s key for agents to let their customers know what options are available to them, should plans change.

Customers booking easyJet holidays through trade partners can enjoy flexible booking options, such as the freedom to change their holiday up to 28 days before departure, and we know our agent partners can use this policy to put their customers’ minds at ease.

Ask the expert 2

Alan Cross, head of trade, Jet2holidays

Alan joined Jet2holidays to launch its trade sales channel and has been head of trade for more than 13 years. He has worked in the travel industry for 43 years across a range of roles spanning retail, airline reservations, cruise, advertising, publishing and corporate software.

Alan Cross

I always urge agents to push the Canaries

Our latest sales data shows that people are leaping at the chance to book a winter holiday now respective governments have relaxed restrictions. After so long stuck in a very gloomy UK, customers are booking January, February and March holidays in big numbers.

With bookings equal across each of those months, it’s clear customers are not fussed about when they get away, it’s the actual getting away that matters most – alongside a good deal, of course.

As always, the Canaries are selling very well. As the UK’s leading operator to the Canary Islands, that is fantastic news as we have an unrivalled choice of packages for independent travel agents to offer their customers.

I always urge agents to push the Canaries for winter sun simply because it guarantees beautiful sunshine for those wanting to escape the cold, rain and gloom of the UK. Mainland Spain, Turkey and Portugal are also performing very well.

To secure bookings from holidaymakers who’ve been put off by the restrictions, push your expertise and the fact you are professionals who can guide them through the process.

Customers need assurance right now, so be confident in communicating the huge benefits of booking through an independent agent. You can build on that by selling them package holidays booked through a reputable provider such as Jet2holidays.
PICTURES: Shutterstock/Balate Dorin, Kalman, Anton Petrus.

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