Now into the second month of the year, travel advisors are already reporting an increase in demand for private parties and quick getaways.
Here is more about those trends and other client patterns Travel Market Report uncovered that can help you make money this year and beyond.
Low-cost carriers in high demand
While basic economy is not something Anthony Tucker, vice president and general manager at the All-Inclusive Outlet in Georgetown, Kentucky, would book for himself, he does admit that it is becoming more enticing in 2020.
“A big trend we saw in 2019 was a surge in bookings to low-cost airlines and a flood of questions regarding Basic Economy fares,” said Tucker. “There is a huge number of great schedules and fares that provide a significant price advantage over normal fares.”
And what low-cost carriers would Tucker recommend?
“If clients don't mind being unable to pick their seat assignment and will be checking most of their vacation luggage,” said Tucker, “then Basic Economy and airlines such as Frontier [Airlines] and Spirit [Airlines] are excellent options.”
Flexible rates equal flexible dates
Penny Sheldon, owner of Penny Sheldon Travel in Boise, Idaho, said she is seeing more of a willingness by clients to change their originally desired travel dates, so long as the value makes the change of plans worth it.
“I have many clients who are being more flexible with their travel dates so they can take advantage of better rates during the shoulder season,” she said, “which is a contributing factor for increased length of stay for a lesser budget.”
She said it has also contributed to many of her clients booking further out than usual.
“The budgets this year seem to be more diverse than in years past,” said Sheldon. “I encourage my clients to book a minimum of six months out in order to get the better rates and availability.”
As far as the LGBT market goes, Dane Steele Green, president and CEO of Steele Luxury Travel in New York City, said the LGBT traveler who “despises river cruises are now trying out cool river cruises.”
On example he gave Travel Market Report was Uniworld River Cruises, which he said “offers a fun and fresh product that is geared towards younger travelers, and the LGBT market.”
Carlos Melia, luxury travel advisor and founder of the LGTNetwork - Luxury Gay Travel Network, also told Travel Market Report that the LGBT market is looking for more private group travel experiences. Gay and lesbians, specifically, said Melia, are also expected to take part heavily in celebration travel in 2020.
Philip Sheldon, owner of HE Travel in Salt Lake City, Utah, said his agency is currently seeing an increase in requests for customized tours.
“Recent custom tours have included a backroads New Zealand tour for a straight couple and a Japan tour for a gay couple, including a visit to the snow monkeys of the Japanese Alps,” said Sheldon. “By providing unique customized tours, we also get inspiration for our group tours. For example, visiting the snow monkeys will now be part of our November 2020 small group ‘Japan Cultural Tour.’”
Short stays are more common
Kacie Walls, an advisor with Travelista Travels, an affiliate of the Tzell Travel Group, in Ocean City, Maryland, told Travel Market Report that she is already seeing an increase in shorter bookings in the early stages of 2020.
“I think the short three-to-five-day trips are in this year,” said Walls. “Clients want a short trip to see a country, but they are able to do multiple short trips to different places by doing shorter days.”
Clients want private celebrations
To get the clients who might stay a bit longer than three to five days, however, Caroline Fridley, founder of Five Star Nomad Travel, an independent affiliate of Departure Lounge in Atlanta, Georgia, said to take advantage of their growing fondness of celebrating milestone events in private settings.
“I’m seeing a large growth in the number of clients looking to celebrate milestone birthdays, especially 30, 40, and 50, by renting out a villa or private island for a four-to-seven-night celebration with a group of friends,” said Fridley.
Celebration travel is also a great way for an agent to make some business before the busy holiday season begins, said Daniela Harrison, a travel specialist with Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff, Arizona.
“We are booking well into 2021 and already have clients working on their wish lists for 2022,” said Harrison. “The current 2020 bookings we have are mainly short-notice travel, like Easter graduations. Most summers and falls are already set and just need a bit of fine tuning. We’re getting ready for the holiday booking wave to start soon.”