11 Oct

Increase in holiday bookings on the high street

New research* released today by ABTA reveals that the number of people booking a holiday in-store has risen, with almost one in five (19%) having done so over the last twelve months, up from 17% in 2015. The most affluent households, classified as social group A** are the most likely to book in-store, with over a third (35%) having done so. Young families also favour the high street, with 37% having booked a holiday in-store over the last twelve months.

When it comes to different age groups, younger generations are more likely to book in-store, with 25-34 year olds leading the way at 29%. Use of high street retailers falls with age, with over-65s being the least likely to book in-store (13%).  This age group is most likely to book a holiday by phone (38%), suggesting that they particularly like to book holidays from the comfort of their home.

There are some notable regional variations in the way people book their holidays, with a correlation between areas with larger cities and higher population densities and in-store bookings. Understandably, this suggests in-store booking is more popular in the areas where there are more shops. London (22%), the West Midlands (25%) and the North West (21%) all tracked higher than average for bookings in shops, while they were also high among Scots (25%) and the Northern Irish (27%). Online booking, by contrast, tracks above the nationwide average of 76% in the East Midlands (82%), Wales (81%) and the South West (81%).

People are most likely to book in-store for trips to new destinations, holidays of 7 nights or more and city breaks. For these types of break, people particularly value the help, advice and expertise offered by travel experts, and seek out the personal touch for higher value trips such as a cruise or honeymoon.  They are less likely to book short breaks and domestic breaks in-store, suggesting they are more confident about booking these kind of trips independently.

Table 1.1 – Holidays that people are most likely to book in store


Trip to a new destination


7 night plus break


City break






Table 1.2 – Holidays that people are least likely to book in store

2-3 night short break


Domestic break


Victoria Bacon, ABTA Director of Brand and Business Development, said: “It is clear that many people value the advice, guidance and expertise offered by travel experts in-store. With an often bewildering choice of holidays on offer, many people appreciate an expert guiding them through this maze towards the best options for them, not least when a holiday may be an investment of thousands of pounds.  We have seen some exciting innovations in the industry in the last couple of years, with a number of travel businesses investing in expanded and improved in-store experiences for customers, recognising that this is a popular way for people to book.   With younger people the most likely to book in-store, the future for travel experts on the high street looks bright.”

* Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in leisure and tourism market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated responses from a nationally representative sample of 1962 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2016. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2016.

** NRS social grades http://www.nrs.co.uk/nrs-print/lifestyle-and-classification-data/social-grade/