New research from ABTA today suggests that consumers are becoming savvier when it comes to choosing when to book their holidays. Six in ten people (60%) said they had changed when they booked their holiday in the past 12 months, when compared to the same period in 2011, to take advantage of deals and greater availability.
A third (34%) of consumers booked their holiday further in advance this year, four in ten (40%) booked at the same time and a quarter (26%) booked closer to the departure date.
The top reasons cited for booking in advance were: better deals/cheaper prices (68%); to get better availability (56%); better choice (38%); to get time off work (28%) and the weather in the UK (16%).
Those leaving it to the last minute also did so primarily because they believed they could get a bargain. Better deals and cheaper prices was the number one reason for leaving it late with six in ten (61%) people saying this was the reason for their delay. Other reasons included: better choice (22%), the weather in the UK (22%) and worry about money and job security (21%).
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “It appears that consumers are thinking more carefully about when they book their holidays. Many are booking earlier to take advantage of better deals and cheaper prices and often greater choice and availability. Consumers are realising that booking early can have many benefits as well as giving you something to look forward to. The benefits are even more pronounced for families where availability of child places for the summer months can fill up quickly.”
Those aged 15-34 were more likely than average to have booked further ahead with getting time off work a key consideration for them. Three quarters (74%) of those aged 15-24 also said that cheaper prices and better deals was a reason for a change in booking time, compared to 65% overall.
Families with children living at home were also more likely than average to have booked further in advance (43%). This group was more likely than average to say that better choice was their reason for changing their lead booking time, suggesting they are keen to take advantage of free child places by booking early.
Paradoxically, families with young children under five were also more likely than average to leave it to the last minute (39%). This is perhaps down to worries over money and job security with over a quarter (29%) of those with young children citing this as a reason for why they changed the time they booked. One in ten (12%) of those with children under five said they changed the time they booked because of concerns over holiday companies going out of business. This compares to 7% overall who cited this as a reason.
It appears the Olympics had minimal impact on booking habits as only 4% said that they changed the time they booked to tie their holiday around key sporting events.
*Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated response from a nationally representative sample of 2008 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to September 2012. Fieldwork was conducted in September 2012.