Cassidy Travel has echoed sentiment around the trade that consumers with cash to spare are booking much further in advance to secure their choice of sun holiday.
Launching the summer 2018 brochure, Director John Spollen told Travel Extra: “There’s much greater confidence in the people booking holidays than there was this time last year and the year before. People who hadn’t gone on for holidays for a few years are now booking and we saw that trend beginning in 2016.”
He said with security issues forcing other Europeans to look away from Egypt and Tunisia, there’s now increased demand – without major hotel builds – in the likes of Spain. Combined with an upturn in the economy here, late bookers are finding it tougher to secure a bargain, or even the holiday they want.
“We’re seeing people booking way in advance now. In the last few years people would be booking at Christmas time or later and there was always a few good deals knocking around. But now we’ve seen the price point rising for people who are leaving it late,” he said.
He said that while school holidays cause a surge in demand, “we’ve suggested to the customers to push it out to the middle of August, particularly for families, rather than June, July and August high season”.
His views echo those of Falcon/Thomson, who also launched next summer’s brochure in Dublin this week, with John Spollen adding: “We’ve already surpassed our level of bookings with them [Falcon] on last year.” He added: “Customers are certainly more confident about booking around their work dates or whatever and school dates so we are seeing those dates being booked up firstly for next year, followed by destination-specific and accommodation-specific demands.”
Trend-wise, he reported that families are spending, but are also cost conscious. “All inclusive is a big thing as you don’t have any shocks at the end of your stay – that’s a great confidence booster for families. In most all inclusive they’re booking three or four star. We’re seeing more hotels lining themselves up to be all inclusive and provide more than the slide and the pool – lots more entertainment and kids friendly stuff.”
He said cruising – what he calls soft adventure – is rising in popularity, and there’s a growing niche market for more exotic cruises, such as those provided in Polar regions by the likes of G Expeditions, represented in Ireland by John Grehan.
John Spollen added: “Spain and Portugal are the top destinations. Greece will also be popular the year. The infrastructure in Crete is very good and the hoteliers have come up with some smashing properties.” Couples are looking to long haul, with John Spollen saying: “Qatar’s new route to Doha opens up the Far East along with Etihad and Emirates and Turkish – all big airlines. And look at Thomson opening up Cancun with a direct flight, there’s a lot going on and it’s coming out of the confidence of the Irish nation.”
More adventurous customers are looking to dynamic packaging, and Cassidy’s stores are handling deposits and registrations in advance of airline fares for next year becoming available, and he added about the value of the agent: “One customer told me, ‘[Booking agent] Shirley sorted me out in half an hour what would have take me six hours online’.
“We’re people to people and people like dealing with people, we’ve 100 staff and mostly front line.” The company will be catering to just under 100,000 holidaymakers this year.