Families and younger people most likely to be earlybirds
A third of summer holidays will be sold in January and February according to ABTA, with early bookers taking advantage of some of the travel industry’s best deals. January 2015 has seen strong early bookings with some ABTA Members reporting ‘exceptional’ days of trading, up as much as 30-50% from the same time period in 2014. A favourable exchange rate against the Euro, which means those stocking up on currency for imminent trips can make important savings, is also helping to boost January bookings to European destinations.
Holidaymakers are making the most of deals and discounts available as well as the opportunity to ensure availability in popular resorts and destinations. Complimentary upgrades and free child places are also a popular incentive and some holiday companies offer as many as 20,000 free child places for travel in the summer.
Cuts in Air Passenger Duty may have also given a boost to bookings. The departure tax is being reduced for many longer haul destinations from 1st April and abolished for children under 12 from 1st May. This will cut £142 off the price of a family holiday for two adults and two children to Florida.
It’s not just overseas holidays that are selling well. ABTA Members selling UK holidays have also reported a strong start to 2015 with bookings for the summer up as much as 27% in some areas, 2014 was a good year for domestic tourism and this has encouraged more people to book early to ensure availability.
More people booking early
In recent years, early booking has grown in popularity. A third (36%)* of people booked their holiday further in advance last year compared to only 24% people who booked closer to the departure date. This continues a trend from 2013/14 when 27% people booked a holiday earlier than usual and 20% left it to the last minute.
This boost in early bookings is being driven by younger people with 51% of 16-24 year olds and 44% of 25-34 year olds booking their holiday earlier in 2014. Families are also more likely to take advantage of the benefits of early booking; almost half (46%) of those with children under 5 and 43% of those with children over 5 booked in advance.
Earlybirds set the scene for 2015
Based on early bookings, the most popular destinations for the coming year are anticipated to be the Balearics, the Canaries and Greece. Long haul, Caribbean destinations continue to prove popular with British holidaymakers – Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic in particular. Mauritius and the Maldives are also in high demand. Beach breaks look set to be popular in the UK in 2015 with perennial favourite Cornwall selling particularly well.
This January has also seen increases in people booking via tablets or mobiles, according to one ABTA Member; over 40% of online bookings are expected to be made via these devices, up 10% versus last year.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “A favourable exchange rate and a cut in Air Passenger Duty, combined with consumers starting to feel more positive about their finances, should benefit the travel market in 2015 and so it is very encouraging to see a strong start to the year. One outcome of the recent financial crisis is that consumers are savvier and so we are not surprised to see that more people are booking early. The travel industry traditionally launches some of its best deals at this time of year and holidaymakers who book early can take advantage of these, as well as getting greater choice and availability. These benefits are even more pronounced for families where availability of child places for the summer months can fill up quickly.”
ABTA is launching a new hub on its website for holidaymakers: www.abta.com/earlybird with advice on booking early. ABTA Members will also be promoting their services and deals on Twitter using the hashtag #ABTAearlybird, from 15thJanuary – giving thousands of holidaymakers real time information on holiday offers.
* 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 2001 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to July 2014. Fieldwork was conducted in July 2014.