ABTA – The Travel Association reveals that ABTA Members are reporting strong early bookings for summer 2014 with some companies reporting sales up more than 10% year on year. Following weeks of bad weather, with the UK battered by a series of storms, latest reports indicate that British holidaymakers are very much looking forward to the summer.
The positive start to 2014 also indicates British holidaymakers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of booking early: research conducted at the end of the 2013 summer holidays shows an increasing number of people said they had booked their holiday further in advance that year compared to 2012*.
Across all holidays, just over a quarter (27%) of consumers said they booked further in advance, half (53%) booked at the same time and one in five (20%) said they had left it later, booking closer to the departure date. Younger travellers (16-24 year olds) are the most likely to book in advance, almost half (48%) booked their holiday further in advance in 2013 and early booking was also favoured by people with young families, 41% of whom booked further in advance.
Better deals/cheaper prices is the main motivator for booking early, over six in ten (62%) cited this as their reason, and ABTA Members have reported that early booking offers such as free child places and low deposit schemes have proved popular. Nearly half (49%) booked in advance for better availability, while better choice (33%) and getting time off work (26%) were also popular reasons.
ABTA is launching a new hub on its website for holidaymakers: www.abta.com/earlybird with advice on booking early and an interactive web tool with information and inspiration on which destinations to visit at different times of the year. ABTA Members will also be promoting their services and deals on Twitter using the hashtag #ABTAearlybird, for one week from 20th January – giving thousands of consumers real time information on holiday offers.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “We are cautiously optimistic about holiday bookings in 2014 so it’s very encouraging to see a strong start to the year and we are also pleased that more consumers appear to understand why it’s important to book early. But with one in five people leaving it later to book in 2013, it’s important that we get the message out about the benefits of booking early: the travel industry traditionally launches some of its best deals at this time of year and holidaymakers who book early can take advantage of these, as well as getting greater choice and availability. These benefits are even more pronounced for families where availability of child places for the summer months can fill up quickly.”
Here are ABTA’s reasons why you should book early:
* Cheaper prices – January and February is the traditional sales season for travel companies and it’s at this time that they put out their best deals with potential savings of hundreds of pounds.
* Free child places – tour operators will typically offer a limited number of free child places in January and February, if you leave it too late to book, these are likely to run out.
* Lots of choice – booking early means that you have a wide range of options as to where and when to go, leaving it late may drastically reduce these options.
* Supply and demand – remember it’s not just British tourists who are all looking forward to their summer holiday but millions of tourists from other countries too. That puts competitive pressure on hotel rooms and flights, and there’s a limited supply of both.
* Buy now; pay later –If you book a package holiday for the summer you will only initially have to pay a deposit with the balance not due until later in the year. This will help your finances under pressure after Christmas and give you a chance to budget effectively.
* Something to look forward to – one of the best ways to beat the winter blues is to talk to a travel professional, research and book your summer holiday. The beginning of the year will be a lot more bearable when you’re counting down the days to your dream holiday.
* Pre–booking flight seats - many airlines now offer the option to pre-book your seats on the aircraft but it’s very much first come first served, so early bookers get priority.
* Popular destinations and accommodation – popular destinations and hotels around the world and in the UK will sell early, so to avoid disappointment, talk to an ABTA Member and book early.
* Lots of very cheap late deals are a thing of the past – rock-bottom-priced late deals used to be common in the travel industry, but the travel market today is much more fluid, with travel companies able to exercise greater flexibility with flights and room bookings, so don’t expect the same volume of last-minute bargains.