Where there is gloom, there is a ray of light for those of us working in travel, writes Victoria Sanders.
This week started with Blue Monday – allegedly the most depressing day of the year.
A few years ago, psychologist Cliff Arnall invented what he claimed was a mathematical formula for misery. According to him, a combination of factors – including lousy weather, post-Christmas debt and shattered new year resolutions – conspire to make the third Monday in January the gloomiest day of the year.
But where there is gloom, there is a ray of light for those of us working in travel. Blue Monday is also one of the busiest for holiday bookings. Our online searches have certainly hit a peak this week so there are signs that people are going online or into travel agencies looking for inspiration, comparing prices – giving a strong indication they are intending to book.
Since Boxing Day our online searches have been well up on last year. Mainly it’s people looking for cheap last-minute getaways. But then we’ve seen a massive increase in searches for the June half-term, which coincides with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
It was along these lines that I was asked to go into the Sky News studio last Friday to talk about travel trends for 2012. I came up with a list of destinations and themes set to be big in 2012.
Inevitably, the presenter wanted to talk about the tough economy and value for money was a running theme, but I wanted to use the opportunity to talk about the importance of a holiday to people’s health and wellbeing, and how the industry is creating a better and more affordable experience for families.
Family holidays will stay
My own view is that people will still take one main family holiday this year, but they will cut down on additional trips – the weekend break or the extra week away. They are also making their holiday shorter, maybe a week instead of two, and the big move is towards all-inclusive.
It’s only within the last few years that the concept of all-inclusive has taken off. For anyone who tries an all-inclusive for the first time it’s usually a complete revelation. Just imagine going out at night without a handbag and eating and drinking as much as you like, seemingly for free, when you get there. First Choice is busy marketing it’s new all-inclusive formula and it’ll be interesting to see what impact that has.
One of the other trends I talked about with Sky News was cruise. However, the Costa Cruises disaster last weekend is bound to have an immediate impact on consumer confidence.
It will raise concerns about safety at sea and the spotlight will be on the seemingly "unsinkable" floating resorts. With the Titanic centenary approaching in April, it’s an issue that will stay in the news for some time.
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