Bargain hunters’ unrealistic expectations are preventing high street agents from capitalising on a lates market boosted by downpours that greeted the start of the school holidays.
Independent retailers say their focus has already switched to future seasons as low availability pushes late bookers online to find cheap deals.
Lee Hunt, director of Suffolk-based Deben Travel, said: “We are not finding availability and, where we are, the prices are not there.
“What demand we are seeing is particularly price-sensitive.”
Hunt said July had been busier than expected but agents had to be imaginative about what they offer clients priced out of popular hot spots and concerned about places such as Greece and Turkey.
Pat Waterton, branch manager at Langley Travel, said the rain prompted a flurry of family enquiries at the weekend but many had unrealistic budgets.
“Even though the schools have only been closed for a week, this is not our market at all,” she said.
“Down the years, the travel industry has cheapened itself by offering something for nothing; now you have to pay for what you get.”
Spear Travels business development director Joan Jones said consultants were being tasked with contacting customers returning from holiday to drive early 2016 bookings.
“If you’re hoping for a good lates season, you’re probably suffering more than most,” she said.
Steve Endacott, chairman of Teletext Travel, said rain in the UK was “perfectly timed”, coming as operators traditionally lose their nerve and dump prices.
“Demand is reasonably strong, but prices are also strong and late customers are price‑sensitive,” he said. “The lates [season] is a lot more volatile due to information online. It’s made pricing more visible and deal finding easier.”
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