Holidaymakers spending more despite ‘headwinds’

Holidaymakers are spending more on their overseas trips, despite consumer confidence dipping in the final quarter of this year.

Speakers at the Abta Travel Trends conference on Wednesday (November 24) said they are seeing consumers paying higher prices for holidays – despite the “headwinds” of inflation and debt.

Nicki Tempest-Mitchell (pictured), sales and marketing director at Barrhead Travel Group, said the average selling price per customer has risen by 20%.

“People have held back for 18 months so there is demand and they are willing to pay more for the right holiday – people are definitely willing to pay more,” she told the hybrid conference in London.

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She said 5% of the agency’s business is for 2023 and 2024, and she hopes that more restrictions will be eased to make life easier for clients and agents.

Mark Duguid (pictured with Tempest-Mitchell), managing director at luxury operator Carrier, agreed, saying spending is up 37% on 2019, which is “phenomenal”.

He said six-figure booking sums were becoming more frequent as there are more big group holidays and clients are upgrading.

Carrier saw a spike in sales after travel restrictions were eased in September and customers are booking with a “ferocious” intensity, said Duguid.

Their experience is reflected in research presented at the conference by Stuart Baker, business director for travel at market research firm GWI.

He said that consumer confidence in Q4 has dipped for the first time since Q1 because of the “headwinds” caused by levels of household debt and disposable income.

However, GWI figures show that 55% of people want to travel in 2022, which equates to almost 20 million Brits who have not yet booked a holiday.

About 11% have firm plans already, which is almost five million.

He said the research confirmed that these consumers are seeking “trusted brands” that offer flexibility and reliability.

Europe is the most popular destination, as it is familiar and easy to access.

GWI also identified trends for bigger groups of family and friends, who are spending more due to pent-up demand and the desire for bucket-list trips.

Baker said there is an increasingly adventurous mindset, or “mature yolo” [you only live once] trend, as people are aware of making up for time lost during the pandemic.

However, people are more aware of their environmental impact and there is an expectation that brands will have sustainable policies.

Tempest-Mitchell said the recent Cop26 climate change conference has brough sustainability issues “to the forefront” and Barrhead is adapting to the desire for customers to know more about their carbon footprint.

Baker said sustainability awareness is growing fastest in the over-55s, adding: “It is not just the Greta Thunbergs; it is right across the board.”

More: Mauritius targets more holidaymakers despite rise in Covid infection rates

2022 predicted to be ‘year of the big family get-together’

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