A rainy June is helping to offset a slow start to summer 2019 sales – but retailers continue to warn of heavy discounting in the lates period.
A subdued peaks prompted operators to cut package prices for the summer, but recent bad weather in the UK has seen demand pick up.
Vim Vithaldas, The Travel Network Group’s chief commercial officer, said: “The past month has been extremely positive; I suspect the weather has contributed a huge part, but tour operator pricing is also quite aggressive.
“All the mainstream operators are discounting heavily. We’ve seen a huge uptake in Turkey, Majorca and Greece, plus mainland Spain around Alicante.”
Vithaldas predicted the discounting would continue into the lates market if the poor weather continued.
Miles Morgan, owner of Miles Morgan Travel, said: “I’m sure Tui and Thomas Cook are doing rain dances every day. We’re trading well, but we are not at the family commodity end which, from all the vibes I pick up, is not doing well despite the bad weather.”
Tony Mann, director of Idle Travel in Bradford, told TTG: “I do a rain dance every morning and I’ve prayed for snow... we have been absolutely crazy [busy].
“May was up 30% and June is coming along well because of the weather.”
Mann added Turkey and Bulgaria were “doing well because of the value”.
“Spain and Portugal prices are quite tight but if people can tweak the dates,
there is some good value. Because of our location, we sell lots of bucket and spade, lots of Jet2, but the overall mix has been broad.”
The original 31 March deadline for Brexit is being blamed for putting some early bookers off, but Claire Moore, managing director of Peakes Travel Elite in Shrewsbury, said “all those Brexit questions have stopped”.
“We’re ahead of last year, but summer 2019 departures are down, although we don’t do a great deal of families,” she said.
She added her agency had done “more business class sales than ever” and spoke of “some really good offers around from Aito operators to Greece and Corsica”.
“We always want to be optimistic, but maybe we should be cautiously optimistic – I’m still recruiting staff.”
This time last year, parts of the UK were enjoying 50 consecutive dry days amid temperatures of 30°C+, with the men’s World Cup another distraction. As ever, no two years present the same issues for travel, and the recent wet weather seems to be driving sales, in some agencies at least. It’s encouraging to hear Brexit questions from clients have died down, but UK politics could yet impact consumer confidence in the coming weeks and months...