Travel agents are hoping operators will hold their nerve in the forthcoming lates market to avoid a discounting ‘bloodbath’.


Following Thomas Cook Group’s capacity cut of 10% and TUI Travel’s own 12% cut in passenger numbers for the UK for summer 2008, agents said prices have held up, with little discounting needed to close a deal.


This week one online ­survey by ebookers.com of 25,000 Brits revealed that as many as 64% of respondents are still waiting to book their holidays in the hope of securing some last-minute bargains. It is hoped operators will resist the urge to discount and keep the market profitable.


Advantage commercial director Julia Lo Bue-Said said: “Operators have done a very good job of holding their nerve on pricing this year and we’re not seeing the £89 and £99 deals appear.


“Once we get to a point where customers realise the pricing is pretty stable, I think we’ll see them coming in and booking last-minute holidays. Margins are also tight and to use them for discounting won’t help.”


She added the consortium’s agents are about 4% up on sales year on year in a market thought to be up to 15% down.


Global commercial director Dave Clayton said Global agents were around 20% up on sales year on year to date, adding: “The market is strong, partly because there has not been much to sell.


“I can’t see a bloodbath at all, prices are holding up, people are spending more and they’re going further afield.”


Kinver Travel owner Sue Foxall agreed prices look strong this summer.


“Pricing is really holding out and operators are able to do that because the capacity has been cut,” she said.