Travel companies have reported a bumper start to the year thanks to increased traffic from social media and online channels partly as a result of dire weather conditions.

TV advertising campaigns and more confidence in the economy have also boosted trade, with retailers and tour operators enjoying higher enquiry and sales levels than last January.

Gary Lewis, managing director of The Travel Network Group (TNG), said members were being encouraged to use social media. He said: “The weather has not helped the high street, but it has helped online sales. It’s been a really positive start to the year.”

TNG’s homeworking company Independent Travel Experts said a Hoseasons holiday offer on one of its members’ Facebook sites had generated 61 enquiries in one day after being shared.

“The bookings from social media are phenomenal,” said director Paula Turner. Sales for its 70 homeworkers are 40% up on last year.

Kuoni managing director Derek Jones said customers were using the web to connect with experts in real-time via web chats or on the phone. “There is a real sense now of that online to offline connection using what we call ‘click and connect’,” he said.

Lowcost Holidays reported a more than 50% rise in traffic to its websites since Boxing Day thanks to bad weather and TV ads.

Miles Morgan, owner of Miles Morgan Travel, said investing in sustained, local TV ads for a second year was helping it “punch above its weight”. Sales since Boxing Day are 32% up on last year.

He added: “To be as buoyant as we are makes me really optimistic about the rest of January.”