Travel advisors say demand continues to outpace rising holiday costs
Rising travel costs are not having a noticeable impact on bookings – at least for now, travel advisors reported.
“Prices are higher – but not just because of inflation,” said Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel. “Many hotels, especially luxury brands, were already priced higher due to demand. Some still do not operate at full capacity, which also influences prices. »
The increase in the cost of airfare also does not cause customers to cancel or change their vacation.
“If fuel prices continue to rise, that might change some people’s minds,” Schoeder said. “This will affect the most budget-conscious travelers first. My clients are more luxury oriented – they complain about the price but still book.
Domestic airfares have been on the rise since late January, noted Jennifer Doncsecz of VIP Vacations. “We found that the costs of flying to Florida were the same as flying to Cancun or Jamaica, which was never the case before,” she said, adding that hotel rates in United States were up in the spring and summer.
“It is difficult to determine whether it is because of inflation or a very high occupancy rate. Either way, prices are much higher for domestic travel than last year,” said Doncsecz.
“We try to educate our customers that $699 flight/hotel packages to Mexico or Punta Cana are a thing of the past. I hope consumers will understand that last minute shoppers will end up spending way more because there are no deals to be found.
“At the moment, the demand exceeds everything. Honeymooners, luxury clients and those who really want to travel will always travel. They may have to cut their stay short or retreat to a room category, but luckily they will always find a way to travel.
One industry segment where deals can still be found is the cruise industry. “Cruises offer tremendous value right now,” Doncsecz said. “Virgin Voyages has proven to be an excellent seller, with many incentive bonuses for consumers and travel advisors.”
Schoeder has also found good values with lines such as Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises. “Some of my luxury customers travel on these two lines when sailing with other family members who are not luxury customers,” she said. “I always find great fares on these lines as well as some luxury lines as well.”
Similarly, Chris Caulfield of CruiseOne witnesses great deals from cruise lines.
“They keep stepping up the service and there are some good deals to get people in,” he said. “I consider onboard credit and prepaid gratuities the best deals.”
As airfare and cruise prices rise, Caulfield noted that demand is nonetheless strong.
“People want to leave and are ready to pay,” he said. “So many trips have been missed over the past two years and people are trying to make up for it.”
Tom Karnes of LaMacchia Travel added: “I believe we have a ‘double whammy’ and prices will go up further.
“Existing limited demand and rising fuel costs will certainly increase costs for travelers this year and early next year.”
Apart from a small percentage of customers who have postponed their travel plans until the end of the year when prices and inventory tend to be lower, Karnes said he hasn’t witnessed any a significant drop in business.
Meanwhile, Tammy Levent of Elite Travel Management Group said it’s currently “tough for your average worker who just wants to take their family on vacation”.
As an example, family customers are asking for rates of $1,500 per person for a five-day, all-inclusive vacation to Cancun, including airfare, she said.
“Now the ticket just to get to Cancun costs between $700 and $900 – plus where are they going to stay?”
Conversely, Levent said its higher-end customers don’t mind the higher prices.
“I have a client who is now spending $35,000 on first class tickets from Tampa to Athens for two in November and he’s okay.”
For the past six weeks, Cal Cheney of Bucket List Travel and Tours has been encouraging customers to buy their plane tickets as soon as possible.
“I rent a campervan through my company and I think the gas prices are reducing bookings a bit.”
In the long run, however, Chesney echoed the sentiment of other advisers. “Pent-up demand will outweigh any price increases.”