More of my clients seem prepared to splash out on their next holiday after a year of no travel, says Spear Travel’s Kim Kent.

As the weather warms up and we see the signs of spring, it lifts our spirits in the hope of better things to come. We reflect on the last year in disbelief at what we have had to do for our businesses to survive.

I have actually been busy with new bookings recently, including to New York, Iceland, the Canary Islands and Greece, plus UK holidays and ski, cruise and touring trips. But I have also had a mountain of rebookings.

It seems some of the bookings I moved from 2020 to 2021 are now being moved to 2022, which is a huge ongoing task. But, thankfully, most tour operators are working with us to help make the transition as simple as possible.

Booking trends

I’ve noticed that, in some cases, changing these holidays to 2022 has not incurred any extra cost for the client. For example, I had five large Canada/Alaska cruise bookings that moved to 2022 all at the same cost – well done, Prestige Holidays. It all helps to keep the customers happy, and we keep the booking.

But not everyone is so keen to move their booking. Some of my customers are actually happy to pay the balance in the hope that they can travel, and are just waiting for news from the government that they can have their well-earned and long-awaited holiday. Fingers crossed we get some good news on that front on April 12.

“For several customers, there seems to be no limit to what they will spend in order to have a ‘treat’ after this past year.”

I have also noticed a change in people’s attitude to spending their money. For several customers, there seems to be no limit to what they will spend in order to have a ‘treat’ after this past year. I have suggested upgrading flights, rooms, cabins and transfers – and many of these suggestions have been taken up.

For example, I have two ladies who travel to the same hotel every year and have moved their booking twice now. So I asked them: ‘There’s a Jacuzzi room for £500 more, do you fancy that?’ She said: ‘Why not, we deserve it.’ This has been the case for new bookings, but also for 2022 rebookings, for which customers seem even more determined to spoil themselves.

Current concerns

I’m getting many questions about the so-called ‘vaccination passport’, and how it will work. Honestly, I have no idea. But I hope they can put something in place quickly as the clock is ticking, with countries opening up very soon. I am also getting questions on insurance and what cover is provided. This is something that has changed so much and is also not clear!

Social media is still having a huge impact on our business and we are seeing an increase in enquiries from both Facebook and Instagram. Recently, we advertised an Isles of Scilly break. Again, for one of these bookings, I was asked for the best rooms in the hotel, so five nights’ B&B became a £3k booking. Boom!

“Social media is still having a huge impact on our business and we are seeing an increase in enquiries from both Facebook and Instagram.”

I was inundated with enquiries for that offer, which resulted in many bookings, but sadly the hotel ran out of availability and is now booked until mid-October.

Nevertheless, what it proves to me is that everyone is so fed up with the lockdown, they just want something to look forward to.

Let’s take advantage of that.


SHUTTERSTOCK-finance

Held to account

Following the collapse of Cruise & Maritime Voyages, we completed the Abta claims for our customers. One lady insisted she had not been refunded. The status of the claim was ‘settled and closed’, so it was highly unlikely she had not been paid. We sent messages to Abta to try to ascertain where the money was sent but did not receive a reply. The lady was upset when I asked her to check all her accounts again. She said she had done this going back to September 2020 and there was definitely no payment. But it turns out she had another account that she hadn’t checked – and her refund money was there! Unbelievable.