Whether it is using twitter to bag a bargain, recognising the Caribbean could still represent good value or Turkey being touted as the most popular short haul destination, a range of leading travel experts forecast top travel trends for the year ahead.
1. Eastern Europe tipped as popular ski destination for those on a budget
“Tight holiday budgets will lead skiers and snowboarders to leapfrog traditional favourites in the Alps for better value ski resorts in Eastern Europe” says Gareth Williams who co-founded flight comparison website Skyscanner to allow him to pursue his passion for skiing.
He continues: “We’ve already seen a 130% rise in searches to Serbia for the winter season where the ski resort of Kopaonik offers good intermediate skiing for less than a third of the price of the French Alps.”
Maria Whiteman, CEO of directline-skiing.co.uk says: “Bulgaria has been heralded by a few of our operators as the ski destination of 2011 with trendsetting Bansko, the premier resort, increasingly popular with international party people. Known as Bulgaria’s Whistler’ recent investment in the resort has provided it with world class facilities.Whiteman concludes:
“We also expect to see more people purchasing ‘ski plus’ packages which is a fairly new all inclusive ski concept thatincludespasses and equipment hire. These are popular as they give better visibility on total holiday spend.”
2. Latin America set to be long haul favourite
Luke Errington of newly founded Patagonian adventure travel specialist Swoop Travel predicts: “The Far East has been fashionable for the last five years, but for many it has now been done and travellers are looking for their next adventure.
“We are expecting to see a paradigm shift in 2011 with Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Brazil all coming in to their own as the information and resources supporting tourism improve. I certainly wouldn’t have started a new business in the region unless it was expected to see significant uplift”
Says Gareth Williams CEO of flight comparison site Skyscanner “Our data shows that flight searches for Chile have doubled over the last 12 months, while year on year searches to Argentina have increased by a massive 167%. We would expect the popularity of these destinations to continue well into 2011.“
3. Adventure travel growth predicted
Errington,continues “Adventure travel has been increasing in popularity for the last couple of years, as people look for exciting challenges to escape from an increasingly stressful day to day environment. Holiday makers are looking for new travel destinations, and off the beaten track experiences.”
Errington concludes “A TUI report* produced earlier this year cited that adventure travel will continue to grow in popularity over the coming years with travellers 190 per cent more likely to book an adventurous trip, 303 per cent more likely to book an environmentally-friendly holiday, and 145 per cent more likely to book a specialist holiday during the next three years.”
4. Turkey forecast as most popular short haul destination
Maria Whiteman CEO of directline holidays commented “Turkey is likely to offer a good value for 2011. Four and five star deals offer exceptionally good value for those looking for the best value holiday outside of the Balearics, Spain and the Canary Islands. We have increased our capacity in Turkey in anticipation.”
5. Private accommodation increase in Croatia expected
Owner of Dubrovnik Apartment Source, Andrew Kehoe says “We’ve experienced a significant increase in interest in private accommodation rentals in Croatia this year and expect to see this trend continue in to next.
“Properties vary greatly in terms of style and quality in Croatia, and part of the recent increase can be attributed to those looking for expert advice on decent properties, however, the current economic climate has also had an impact.
“Villas and apartments offer more living space and represent much better value than hotel accommodation. Self catering can also significantly reduce total holiday costs.”
6. Consumers will buy late but value available for early bookers
Chris North Director at Co-op Travel’s Saniholidays said “Recently, we’ve noticed a late bookings trend driven by more frugal spending habits. Holiday makers are waiting to see how much money they have left in the pot before booking, and are also searching for low cost late deals.
Whiteman supports this supposition: “We’ve certainly seen holidays being purchased much later than in previous years and are expecting late popularity to continue for the first half of next year. We intend to run a number of early booking incentives in January and February to drive sales. Consumers should look out for these savings as others are likely to follow suit.”
Frank Skivington, VP of Commercial at Skyscanner commented “Something to consider when booking flight only is many airlines discourage late bookers by increasing flight costs near to the date of travel. Those holiday makers looking for a bargain should also consider booking well in advance for significant cost savings.”
7. Holiday duration changes
Co-op Travel’s Chris North says “So far, ten and eleven night breaks are proving very popular.”
Charlotte Cumming, Marketing Manager of directline holidays reiterates this point saying “There has been a small but steady decline in the number of people booking the traditional package holiday length - seven and fourteen nights, whereas ten night bookings are up 17%**.”
8. APD not as bad as initially feared?
Williams of Skyscanner comments: “For those destinations which are worse affected by the recent hikes in APD, we expect travellers may look for alternatives – however we would recommend that holidaymakers check flight prices before they discount long haul destinations all together. The Caribbean, for example, falls in to the highest tax bracket but a quick look on Skyscanner this week shows the Dominican Republic and Jamaica are both offering exceptionally good value with prices in January starting from as little as £390 return. Flights to other long haul destinations may still offer good value for money, particularly if travellers consider flying indirect via Europe to avoid paying the increased APD charges.”
Whiteman says: “A family of four flying to Egypt in economy class now pay £240 in APD – £80 more than before November when the new taxes came in to effect. The reality is many of our suppliers have already discounted room rates as a result of the increased flight cost so the impact is likely to be negligible from a tour operator perspective - holiday makers need not panic.”
9. Holiday makers opt for superior insurance
Stuart Bensusan, of travel insurance specialist, EssentialTravel.co.uk comments “This year was unusually difficult for the travel industry with airline strikes, the volcano, terrorist threats and the liquidation of Goldtrail, Sun4U and Kiss flights all impacting consumer sentiment.
“Whilst holiday makers have not stopped travelling we have noticed a significant increased interest in superior level insurance coverage for the second half of this year, which includes cover for redundancy, scheduled airline failure, higher cancellation coverage. We expect this to be our most popular policy for the year ahead.”
10. Social media platforms help consumers bag a bargain
E-commerce Director, John Lucas of directline holidays comments “Joie De Vivre hotel group tweet an exclusive deal to nearly 10,000 followers every Tuesday and in less than a year, has booked over 1,000 room nights through these types of deals - rooms that otherwise would have stayed empty. This increases revenue for the hotel group but also offers significant value to potential customers.
Lucas concludes: “Savvy consumers stand to benefit from exceptional offers by signing up to social media platforms. Holiday companies reward customer loyalty and can offer holiday ideas, inspiration and significant incentives on deals where they are able to sell high volumes.”
11. New holiday options
Founder of newly formed accommodation network MyFriendsHotel.com, Peter Kindness says:
“The internet has opened up many opportunities for travellers making travel more independent and local. MyFriendsHotel.com offers exciting new alternatives to the traditional package trips with accommodation ranging from a 5000 square metre villa with a private beach in Koh Samui to a cave in Turkey.”