Everyone wants the family together and many would rather not cook — so it is no surprise that many travel professionals are reporting an increase in Thanksgiving business.
Now is the time to get the best deals on Thanksgiving flights, and resorts and cruise lines are offering promotions. But the real change is psychological, as this traditional homebound holiday begins to take wings, and travel professionals increasingly see the business opportunity.
Thanksgiving “has not been a really big event” for Brenda Sue, owner of Heaven's Blessings Weddings, Events & Travel, whose focus is on destination weddings. “But my business partner has been branching out offering travel opportunities in the areas of holiday travel and group travel,” she said. “This being the first year offering this service, it will be exciting to see what happens.
Promoting Thanksgiving travel
"Some of the ways that we are promoting our travel components are through social media such as Facebook posting, Facebook business pages, Instagram, Twitter, blogging, and webpages, and referrals as outlets to reach clients and potential customers," Sue added. "We are also in the process of interviewing with our local newspapers and radio shows. It will be interesting and exciting to see how things transpire, always an opportunity to assist someone, make new connections and evolve as a business ever focusing on client needs, requests and trends.”
“I've been seeing an increase,” says Rolanda Chambers, owner of Golden Voyage Travel. “Many people want to do something different. I have a family reunion group sailing the week of Thanksgiving, and others also doing the same.”
Amy Grubbs McHugh, co-owner of Dream Makers Vacation Services, has seen clients whose preferred trips for Christmas and New Year's are sold out or very expensive, switch and “start looking at Thanksgiving. Recently we have had a few clients who have based their reservation on whether a resort will offer some type of Thanksgiving meal — it can be part of the decision!”
And Paige Hawkinson Tyler at Let’s Wander Travel is seeing the spillover among families with children, as an option to the crowded Christmas break. “Our local schools used to give the entire week for Thanksgiving, so booking a vacation that week seems like a no-brainer. With that being said, even though the schedule has since changed, I still book families for out-of-the-country vacations that week, I think because there is little going on at schools and low guilt in missing those few days.”
Cruises and all-inclusives are the top choices
Lauren Liebert at Ticket to Travel, meanwhile, has a group sailing on the Carnival Vista and another set of clients going to Cancun. “I am finding clients prefer to travel together and forego all of the cooking,” she said.
Travel concierge Starr Wlodarski at Cruise Planners reports her Thanksgiving business is largely empty nesters; AAA senior travel consutant George Andritsakis sees “quite a bit of Thanksgiving travel, especially from quite a few large military bases in my territory.”
Yvette Shaqir, co-owner of The Travel Boutique LLC, has been seeing “a trend with older teen and young adult children wanting to travel to an all-inclusive for Thanksgiving. They feel like everyone is so scattered during the year and vacationing for T-giving is a way to make sure everyone tries their best to participate in the holiday.” Hard Rock Punta Cana does a great job with a Thanksgiving buffet, she said.
Luxury travel advisor Celeste Mitchell at Absolute Journeys Tours & Cruises agreed that “Thanksgiving seems to be a holiday that offers a lot of choices. Besides the regular option of staying home locally or hoping on a domestic flight to go across the country to celebrate with family, some travelers are choosing to take a cruise with family and friends. Because Thanksgiving is such a short holiday clients can go to Cabo San Lucas for five days or Ensenada/Catalina for four, with or without the short flights to get to the terminal. I think there is a trend also on the East Coast during Thanksgiving to take advantage of the short cruises to Bermuda or the Bahamas with family.”
Mitchell also sees clients going to villas and private residences with family and friends to celebrate the season. “I am seeing promotions for Thanksgiving stays in villas on tropical islands. A few resorts, too.”
For Gail Woloz of TravelStore, though, Thanksgiving is a time to “breathe a little and spend time with my own family. For Thanksgiving my clients mostly plan being with their families at home, wherever that may be. It's the calm before the storm of that two weeks in December when everyone seems to want to travel and my life is extremely busy once again! I love Thanksgiving — my favorite holiday!”
Wlodarski recommends sailings leaving the weekend after Thanksgiving, when everyone is headed home, and ships are not at capacity.
But Becki Doby likes to practice what she preaches. “I love Thanksgiving cruises. Good food and no cooking or clean-up involved! I am personally on Freedom of the Seas this year,” she said.