The national media has previously predicted booming holiday bookings for the second Saturday of the year, but this year TTG noticed a lack of celebratory operator press releases.
It follows advice from auditing firm KPMG to agents to offer “better deals” to offset Brexit concerns.
Tui insisted it had seen “a really strong weekend”, and specified that Sunday had seen bookings up 2% year-on-year, making it the second busiest online day ever for bookings.
Travel Counsellors, which saw a 17% rise in forward booking pre-Christmas, said sales “remained steady” over the weekend, with a “significant pick up” on Monday as sales topped £3 million.
But Alan Bowen, advisor to the Association of Atol Companies, said despite “a lot of hype” in advance of Sunshine Saturday “no one I have spoken to is jumping for joy”.
Thomas Cook would not give specific details, citing it was in a closed period.
It came as KPMG released details of a survey of more than 4,000 UK consumers, revealing 58% of respondents expected travel between the EU and UK to be “difficult” post March 29 [the UK’s official exit date] and 55% anticipated flight delays and cancellations in the event of a no deal.
Will Hawkley, global head of leisure and hospitality at KPMG in the UK, said: “Many customers will now be valuing reassurance as much as fun and excitement in their booking criteria.
“In practice, this means agents offering better deals to more locations, giving practical advice on bookings and ensuring they are available when holidaymakers have questions.”
Some agents were not impressed with the “deals” remark, with Travel Designers boss Nick Harding-McKay responding: “Surely an accountancy firm should understand we need to make a profit to stay in business.”
Bowen said the “real test” for the market would come after the vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal next week.
“If, as seems likely, the vote will be against accepting the Brexit plan and we face a no-deal exit, all bets are off,” he said. “If the mainstream press go into meltdown, then I think there is a real danger of consumer confidence falling, as may the value of the pound.”
No – people are tired of Brexit and will continue to prioritise holidays over other purchases
Yes – it is terrible timing and I’m concerned about the impact on my business