Hays Travel Conference 2007

Homeworkers need to adapt to major changes in customer booking patterns, according to accommodation-only company Med Hotels.

Group trade director Carl Burrows told Hays homeworkers research has shown customers are now booking later and for different durations from the traditional seven and 14-night packages.

Burrows presented figures that revealed in October 2005 only 4.8% of customers were booking within a month of travel whereas for the same period in 2006 almost 24% were booking at short notice.

He said: “There has really been a change in booking trends. More and more people are travelling and fewer are taking a package holiday. This has a lot to do with the impact of low-cost carriers.

“These are fundamental changes happening in our industry, and we all have to embrace them because what we sell on a day-to-day basis will be different.

“Customers are changing – they want more and they have a greater knowledge of what they want. They surf the Internet and then look to an agent to arrange it for them.”

Med Hotels has just 4,000 hotel rooms, a significantly smaller number than rival bed banks, but Burrows claimed this was an advantage.

“We know our products inside out. Some of our competitors have tens of thousands of hotels. Having a smaller selection means we are in direct contact with the hotels,” he said.

Med Hotels is in the process of applying to become a member of the Federation of Tour Operators and it is also planning to move into the Far East and Florida.

The Lastminute.com-owned firm is the sole accommodation-only supplier on Hays Travel’s dynamic packaging system Travelink.