According to the winners of 2015 ITTN Travel Agency of the Year Awards (J Barter Travel Group, Fahy Travel, Oasis Travel and JustSplit.com), bookings and enquiry levels in January were well up, with family sun holidays and cruising proving to be particularly popular.
One said January bookings were up 15%, another reported that “We had the best January in all our years of trading” and a third that “they were very strong, generally across the board, and it was the most optimistic January in five or six years”.
When asked which were the most and least popular sectors, they agreed that family sun holidays topped the list followed by cruising – with one also mentioning camping. In general bookings are up across all sectors, but one reported that “long-haul seems to be a bit slower this year” and another that “Turkey has certainly lost favour”.
The question ‘What has surprised you the most?’ received widely varying answers. These were: “The speed of decision making…less foot dragging”, “The very high level of family enquiries, with many moving to travel in May due to the high prices in July/August”, “The popularity of bookings to the USA – perhaps due to the fantastic air fares that were available in January”, and “The high level of travel dates in February/March and the number of higher-end cruise bookings due to the value for money offers”.
There were also differences in responses as to whether this year’s ‘long Easter’ had increased bookings. One had not noticed any increase but others had, one adding “particularly for Florida” and another reporting that “we have seen a lot of early-year travel arrangements”.
Overall the agents expect the good booking levels to continue through February, but perhaps at a slower pace, with one reporting: “They have slowed down a bit, but we are still quite busy – so we are hopeful!” Another said: “We expect February bookings to remain strong as there are many enquiries in the pipeline – but with the schools closed March as a selling period could be difficult”.
Three of the agencies had received several enquiries for travel to Ireland’s Euro 2016 matches in France in June, but one added that “many fans have been doing their own thing” and another said that “most of the sports bookings have gone direct”.