Price rise threat fuels early sales

Travel agents are using the threat of potential price rises to encourage clients to secure bookings for this summer and next year.

Rising supply chain costs are expected to lead to price increases, with the impact of the war in Ukraine remaining an area of concern.

Leger Holidays last week confirmed it would increase holiday prices from May by between 5% and 10% in response to growing accommodation and transport costs.

Suzanne Cumpston, sales and commercial manager at Glamorgan-based Sam Smith Travel, said: “I am going to tell our database to book for 2023. Everybody knows that costs will escalate, so if they book now, they can lock in a [better] price.”

Advantage Travel Partnership said members continued to take a lot of late bookings as customers tried to beat price increases, with “good demand” also for 2023 departures.

A spokesperson said: “We are continuing to see the trend towards late bookings, with 39% of bookings for travel within 12 weeks.

“We have pushed the late-booking message to our members, as this also helps from a cashflow perspective.”

Barrhead Travel customers are booking imminent departures, while putting down deposits for holidays for as far away as 2024. President Jacqueline Dobson said more than 50% of current bookings were for this summer, but sales for summer 2023 and 2024 were ahead of the equivalent period in previous years.

Miles Morgan Travel is also seeing high demand for late bookings, bucking the firm’s normal trend.

Owner Miles Morgan said last week was its best-ever in April as more people turned to agents for “the trust and security they don’t get online”.

Not Just Travel co-founder Steve Witt said “fuel prices, Covid and Brexit are all having a significant impact”, adding: “The clear advice is to book early to secure the best price and availability.”

Alan Bowen, legal advisor to the Association of Atol Companies (AAC), warned that a sharp rise in costs would lead to surcharges on some holidays.

He added: “Everything is going up in price. Wages are falling behind. We’re all going to find ourselves poorer. We’ve seen no impact of the cost of living or the war on demand so far, [but] I’m saying to AAC members, ‘Tell people to book now as prices will go up.’”

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