Late deals kick in as World Cup bows out

THE World Cup is over, the school holidays are starting and there are still thousands of people who haven’t booked their summer break. Welcome to the late deals frenzy.

There is still plenty more product available for people who waited to see how far England got in the World Cup before booking their getaway.

But is your shop doing the best it can to sell late deals? Does the shop up the road have a better strategy for selling them? Read Jane Archer’s 20 ways to sell late deals to find out how you can improve.

Travel Weekly asked three agencies how they sell late deals.

Charlotte Harrison, general manager, First Choice Holiday Hypermarket, Telford

We put the late offers together here and they are approved by our marketing department, then sent back here to print out and distribute.

As well as using the windows we go out into the community. We will leave flyers in the other shops on the retail park where we are based, as well as other places such as gyms.

The majority of the offers in the window at the moment are late deals. We have got some deals for April 2007 and a couple for summer 2007, but a good 80% are late deals.

This isn’t always the ratio, but it works for this time of year. Internally, we also have a board where late deals are displayed. We do get the odd customer who looks at the window, but generally not a lot of business is generated by window displays.

We decide which late deals to promote based on customer requests. As a team we talk about the enquiries we have had that day and the dates people are looking to travel. At the moment customers are looking for family deals for the school holidays.

Over the weekend we had a lot of people asking for next-day departures. Late deals can be easier to sell if the customer wants to depart the next day because there is less choice. They usually want to fly from local airports.

It is always busy with lates. Four years ago, it was exceptionally busy after England got knocked out of the World Cup. This year there seem to be better late deals around, because of the football and also because of the competition between tour operators.

The deals aren’t just for the normal two weeks in the Mediterranean, but long haul and cruise as well. We sell quite a lot of long haul, particularly Mexico and the Caribbean.

Stephen Bath, joint managing director, Bath Travel, Bournemouth

We have window cards in each of our 56 branches, although we have just reduced the number of cards from 64 down to 16.

Part of the reason was to make the windows look less like an employment office, but also because there have been problems with Trading Standards, which has been clamping down on out-of-date cards.

Typically, of the 16 cards, four will be cruise, four will be flight-only, four will be lates and four long haul.

We select the holidays we promote on the basis of what we think we can sell, with the bias on what pays us the best commission.

We produce 32 late-deal cards every Friday from our head office. The shops can then pick from the selection and refresh their windows weekly. Late deals also go on the website, although bookings are made through stores.

Before England got knocked out of the World Cup, our tour operation division noticed that people were holding off from booking, but now people are starting to think about their holidays and are looking forward to going away. Things are picking up.

Charles Greenway, operations manager, Champion Travel, Hampton, Middlesex

On our database we have current clients and prospective customers.

Depending on booking patterns we have had in the past, we can drill down and see which clients will be interested in certain deals. We e-mail our customers and send out mailshots.

If people have been reading the Sunday papers and there is an article on a particular destination, then that quite often generates interest. Television has the same effect. 

We had quite a busy time up until the World Cup and then it slowed down. The shop is getting all sorts of different enquiries; there is a lady in the office at the moment, booking a trip to France for a wedding and we had a family in on Wednesday looking for a beach holiday to Majorca.

There are also a lot of long-haul enquiries, particularly Australia and the cruise market. There are some quite good deals around.

We don’t put late availability offers in the window, but we do dress it to display different areas around the world. We use posters or display material.

People do plan ahead quite a bit here. We do have a lates market but it is not huge. From our brochure pick-ups, there is currently interest in Greece and Turkey.

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