Travel Counsellors has claimed an 8% year-on-year rise in late summer bookings made in July for summer departures.
The increased sales follow analyst GfK reporting a 7% fall in sales in June – a third consecutive month of decline.
However, Travel Counsellors reported a consistently strong pattern in late bookings, with June bookings for summer departures up 6% and overall bookings made in May to July up 8%.
Spain, Italy and Greece are the top three destinations booked for the summer, with the favourable exchange rate due to the weak euro increasing the appeal of overseas holidays in Europe for late bookers.
Sales director Malcolm Hingley said: “Despite reports of a slow summer lates market we have seen a strong booking trend over the summer months, and additionally our future bookings for winter 2014 are also performing well, up 11% on last year.
“As our Travel Counsellors are not restricted to third party product and are able to re-package and tailor-make for their customers, they are not affected by reduced capacity.
“Plus, our sales are not as heavily reliant on traditional summer Med packages.”
He added: “We are also seeing more and more customers recognising the value of booking with a trusted and knowledgeable travel agent, with our focus on customer service resulting in a repeat booking rate of over 70%.”
The company also reported a boost in late bookings from a summer marketing campaign, launched in May, which enabled agents to target the lates booking market based on customers’ previous booking patterns and destinations.
Travel Counsellors has been hosting a daily ‘summer lates’ show, broadcast from its in-house TV studio to agents across the UK, offering daily summer offers, plus advice and tips on connecting with customers, and how to make the most of the lates market.
Hingley said: “Over the past few months we’ve invested further in the marketing support offered to our agents, and we’re currently seeing the direct benefits, particularly from our summer lates marketing campaign.
“Our focus is about making it more personal for our customers and their specific needs. Through targeted marketing, our agents have been able to connect with their customers on a personal level, helping to strengthen relationships and get those last-minute bookings in.”
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