More holidaymakers are booking package holidays while DIY holidays have fallen in popularity, new research from Abta has revealed today.
In 2012, nearly half (48%) of people booked an overseas package holiday, compared to 42% in 2011 and 37% in 2010.
Among 35-44 year olds, more than half (51%) said they had booked an overseas package holiday in 2012, compared with just over a third (36%) in 2011.
The findings show there has been a slight decrease in the number of people booking and paying for their travel and accommodation separately, otherwise known as ‘DIY’ bookings.
A total of 39% of people said they booked an overseas DIY holiday in 2012 compared to 43% in 2011.
Packages have also proven popular for domestic holidays this year, with nearly a quarter (23%) booking a UK package holiday. This compares with one in ten (12%) in 2011 and 14% in 2010.
DIY holidays at home have also seen a slight decrease in popularity with 36% booking one last year compared to 34% this year.
The number of people booking an overseas holiday through a high street travel agent rose slightly in 2012, with 27% booking through a high street agent compared to 25% in 2011.
The findings also reveal that people feel more positively towards travel agents than they did a year ago, with 40% saying that they value the services that a travel agent offers compared to 30% last year.
A third (36%) of respondents said they preferred the reassurance of dealing with a person, up from 28% in 2011. Women and travellers aged 15-34 were more likely than average to value the services of a travel agent.
Abta’s research discovered that UK consumers took an average of 3.51 holidays in the UK or overseas in 2012, a decrease from 3.82 in 2011 but up from 3.2 in 2010. Younger travellers bucked the trend with those aged 15-34 taking more breaks in 2012 than 2011.
The research also shows there is a significant number of consumers for whom a holiday is a necessity they cannot do without, with one in five feeling this way about a longer overseas holiday and one in ten for a longer holiday in the UK.
Financial protection, Abta and Atol membership continue to take three of the top five positions in consumers’ lists of holiday booking essentials as they did in 2011, illustrating that customers look for reassurance and protection as a priority when booking a holiday.
Also in the top five booking essentials are safe accommodation, ranked number one, with 83% citing this as essential or important, and value for money, ranked number five, with 70% seeing this as essential or important. Well trained and experienced staff is also seen as essential or important with 68% looking out for them.
When compared to last year, 'lowest prices' have seen the single biggest percentage rise for holidaymakers, with 59% saying that it is one of their booking essentials compared to just over half (53%) last year.
It has now overtaken booking with a well-known name in travel as a priority for customers.While financial protection is still rated number two in the list of essentials its importance has decreased slightly from last year when 79% regarded it as essential or important.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Holidays are one of the biggest annual investments for many people, both financially and in terms of time. So it’s perhaps not surprising that factors such as safety, financial protection and value rate more highly when booking than simply finding the lowest prices.
"Holidaymakers want assurance that their family is going to have a safe and secure holiday and that means they’re not just looking for the cheapest deals.”