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January bookings are up and down but February looks more positive, says Amanda Matthews, managing director of Designer Travel
I can’t speak for anyone else but for us at Designer Travel, January was a month of ups and downs.
Trading was all over the place: one day sales were up by 50%, the next they were down by a half. It’s been a weird old month, that’s for sure.
One of our specialities is the luxury family market and for us this is the market that has been the most unpredictable. While Spain, Portugal and Italian family holidays are being snapped up, our firm family favourites in Greece and Turkey have been greatly impacted.
Our customers have expressed concerns about security in Turkey and are worried about Greece in light of the media coverage of the crisis in Syria.
Turkey and Greece
The issue for us as travel agents is trying to find the equivalent standards of resort in these more “in demand” destinations, when in reality they really don’t exist to the same degree.
Turkey has been so popular for us over the years. Luxury families love the high‑end five-star resorts that offer restaurant choices, water parks and a full entertainment programme for an affordable budget. This summer, clients who are changing destinations are having to accept that not all of their boxes will be ticked and they will be paying more for less.
We are doing what we can to support these destinations. We are taking our team to the Gloria Resort in Turkey for our annual conference and we can’t wait.
I do feel, though, that more should be being done by the tourist boards and hotels. Instead we have been faced with a number of hotels, particularly in Greece, trying to undercut us and offering rates direct to the clients that we can’t have. This strategy really does smack of biting the hand that feeds you.
Long-haul on the up
On the flip side of this, in January destinations such as the US and the Indian Ocean proved really popular, with many luxury families opting to travel to Mauritius in the summer.
Our Beachcomber business was up almost 40% in January as many of our luxury family customers booked all‑inclusive holidays to the island for less than the European equivalents.
To specialise in the luxury family market you need to know which hotels have interconnecting rooms, which have a crèche, how old the kids need to be for the clubs, which resorts have heated pools, and so on.
If this is a market you are thinking of getting in to, then be prepared to do your homework as you really need to add value to the booking process rather than just take an order.
February has got off to a flying start, with all days so far up against last year. So on that note, I wish you all a busy and productive month.
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