Winter sales double this time last year FORWARD winter sales for youtravel.com, the UK’s largest independent accommodation-only supplier, are more than double than this time last year.Summer sales are up 16 per cent on this time last year, a feat described as “very encouraging”, by sales and marketing director Paul Riches.
“This is a great position to be in when you consider what this year has thrown at the industry so far, including the unprecedented disruption caused by the ash cloud. This, plus the general election and the World Cup causing people to delay holiday plans, means that this summer will be another one characterised by late sales,” he said.
However he added that the increase in interest for winter holidays is indicative of the fact that people are starting to think longer term with their travel plans as the economic and political situation in the UK settles down.
Riches said: “The fact that the whole industry has been pushed into a late sales arena means that we’re in a great position to capitalise on opportunities – and help our agent partners to do so.
“The glut of flights which are available in the market means that we’re able to offer agents great value, good quality hotel beds to be matched with these flights. We’re a nimble and fast-acting company, putting us streets ahead of larger, less speedy rivals.”
For this summer, the euro zone is fighting back against non-euro destinations which have been capitalising on exchange rate for the past couple of years. Majorca is youtravel.com’s best-selling destination (see below for full listing), thanks to hoteliers reacting more swiftly this year to changing demand, and adjusting rates accordingly, according to Riches.
He said: “People may have stayed away from Spain and its islands in past two years to avoid the euro zone. However these destinations (particularly Majorca, Costa Blanca and the Canaries) are the bedrock of the UK holiday industry, they'll not stay out of favour for long, they are easily accessible, familiar and offer a fantastic climate. Also increasingly they’re offering better value for money as attractions, bars and restaurants have been offering special deals such as two-for-one or fixed price menus in a bid to make euro zone more competitive and attractive to travellers.”
Naturally the key, close-to-home non-euro destinations, Turkey and Egypt predominantly, still play an important part for youtravel.com for this summer. Sharm el Sheikh is its second best-selling destination for this summer, and the Turkish resorts of Dalaman and Bodrum are third and sixth respectively. In terms of which are the fastest-growing destinations for youtravel.com, Morocco comes out on top – it’s pulling ahead in the DP market as a whole too. “Agadir is our fastest growing destination for this summer, plus Marrakech comes in fifth. The explosion in flight capacity to Morocco, means that it has never never been easier for agents to offer it as a tailor-made holiday or short break option.
“Plus it’s outside the euro zone so has an exchange rate bonus too and the added publicity of the fact that Sex and The City 2 was filmed there, that alone will get the ladies flooding in for some bargains in the souks and eastern glamour,” said Riches. Marrakech was leading the growth for Morocco, however this has stabilised in the past year, it's now cemented on the UK traveller's radar. Agadir represents a new place to explore within a well-loved country, explained Riches.
The Canary Islands have also seen significant growth in sales due to the fact that youtravel.com has revamped its product portfolio for the islands. Also for Fuerteventura in particular, the flight capacity has improved dramatically compared to last year. Turkish resorts performing well again on the fastest-growing list, with Bodrum at seven on the fastest-growing list and Antalya at 10. This is again due to the favourable exchange rate, wider public knowledge of Turkey as a holiday destination, better flight availability, and great value for money.
Riches said: “However once more the euro zone is not to be forgotten: Malta, Algarve and Zante are all among the 10 fastest-growing destinations for summer 2010. There is potential for growth in the euro-zone. All are well-established however have not reached the mass tourism of others such as Majorca or Crete.
“This plus the fact that all three are looking to attract different audiences (Malta for spa lovers and families, The Algarve for golfers and couples, and Zante for younger groups and couples) shows that offering differentiated products is still crucial.”