Travel Counsellors reports growing sales ‘momentum’

The chief executive of Travel Counsellors says now is a “great time for customer to book” holidays, reporting a plethora of competitive prices in the market and “momentum” building on sales.

Steve Byrne told a Travel Weekly webcast that the homeworking group’s leisure sales are at 75-80% of pre-pandemic levels.

Byrne said: “It’s a great time for customers to book, particularly short-haul. Flight prices are super-competitive and there is availability. Compared to where we were two or three months ago, and last year, you’re seeing really positive demand for Spain and other European hotspots.

“People are booking now to go this month in October. Then you’re starting to see momentum build for winter and next year.”

He explained that summer 2022 is 300% up for Travel Counsellors, but noted that the figures are “slightly misleading” because “a lot of people have rebooked from the last two summers”.

“I’m not getting too carried away,” Byrne said. “What’s really encouraging, though, is bookings for this winter; we’ve already booked about 55% of what we did in winter 2018-19, mainly Caribbean, the Canaries and Dubai. This is reassuring.”

Looking back on trading for summer 2021, Byrne said Travel Counsellors had been “very prudent” and “hadn’t factored in any material overseas travel”.

“We’ve actually performed much better than we expected, but our starting point was pretty low,” he explained, noting the group had “pivoted” to selling more UK breaks.

“There’s been ups and downs, but there’s no doubt there’s a general momentum,” said Byrne. “From June, July, August, the overall trend is one of steady improvement.”

He added: “It’s better than expected, but still way below what we would have wanted compared to two years ago – but bookings, for the remainder of this year and next, are starting to pick up really solidly. Hopefully that’s encouraging for everyone.”

Byrne also noted a “huge direct correlation” between demand for destinations and the same destinations being added to the government’s green list for international travel.

“Enquiry levels for Dubai were up by 400% as soon as that announcement came out,” he said. “And because you have more people traveling now and they’re sharing their stories, people see that you can travel, you can go away and have a great holiday and come back safely with great memories.

“The general momentum now for everyone is improving quite significantly.”

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