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Trade bookings firm despite cost-of-living increases

Holiday bookings through the trade are holding firm despite continued cost-of-living increases.

The trade gave positive trading updates this week despite inflation running at 9% and consumers cutting back in other areas, including on food.

Althams Travel managing director Sandra McAllister said cost-of-living rises were yet to put holidaymakers off, with demand outstripping supply.

“There is huge demand and not enough holidays,” she said. “If clients have waited for two or three years, they are going on holiday come what may and will make cuts elsewhere.”

Fred Olsen Travel head of commercial Paul Hardwick agreed clients were prioritising holidays and cruises “above pretty much anything else for 2022”, adding that average booking values were also higher.

“Customers are spending more on this year’s holidays,” he said.

“Our average booking value is up £700 compared with 2019, with customers wanting to go away for longer or stay somewhere nicer after not having travelled for two years.”

He described a dip in sales over the Jubilee weekend as a “slight blip” in an otherwise “very strong” May and June.

InteleTravel said bookings up to May this year were 62% up on the same period in 2021.

UK director Tricia Handley- Hughes said: “Sales remain strong and have not yet been affected by any of the current issues. We continue to see high average transactional values, with a top individual sale of £107,068 within the past two weeks.”

InteleTravel agent Victoria Grieveson, of Worcester-based Eden Voyage, said even higher prices were not putting clients off.

“Some clients have an unrealistic budget and we have to explain to them prices have risen, but it doesn’t put them off booking,” she said.

The rise in booking value was echoed by The Advantage Travel Partnership. It said bookings by Advantage Managed Services agents were up 6% in volume last week versus the same week in 2019 but up 38% in revenue, with 45% of bookings for travel within 12 weeks.

Leisure director Kelly Cookes said: “The demand still seems to be there. Nothing is slowing it down.”

Full Circle Travel managing director Niall Douglas cautioned some price hikes were making clients rethink parts of their bookings, such as switching from airport car parking to travelling by taxi.

“Some of the airport car parking prices are crazy,” he added.

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