Travel Experts’ advisors say that bookings continue to be up over last year at this time, but the slumping economy along with a rash of flight cancellations have deterred some clients from planning vacations right now.
That said, according to Travel Experts’ advisors, the fall travel booking season is brisk, Europe continues to shine and warm weather spots are popular vacation spots for winter vacations.
“Our affiliated independent contractors are mostly reporting a continuation of the summer surge of bookings and many of their clients are still traveling to Europe in the fall and planning South America, the Caribbean and Mexico for the winter,” said Sharon Fake, executive director for Travel Experts, in a press statement.
Elaine Smith of Cary, NC, agrees that fall business is very good: “I’ve received numerous new inquiries and referrals since Labor Day. That seems to be the norm as summer is over and clients are looking at their calendar realizing they need to plan the next trip.”
Europe continues to be popular with her clients including Italy, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona and European river cruises. Back in the U.S. her most sought-after destinations are Santa Fe, New Orleans, Miami Beach, Charleston, SC, and Montana.
Kim Schott Steiger of Saint Charles, MN, said: “My sales continue to rise and it is lovely.” Most of her clients are booking Hawaii, Caribbean and Mexico for the fall and winter. To avoid the impact of flight cancellations, Steiger says, “I am encouraging them toward nonstop flights for less possibility of travel challenges.”
Alexis Sherry of Livingston, NJ, said: “Summer 2022 was an incredibly busy season for my agency, with bookings made between June and August 2022 up over 100 percent over 2021. On average, my clients are booking trips with a 55- to 65-day lead time, meaning I have quite a few clients traveling in Q3 this year.”
Sherry added: “I am very excited to have several clients traveling on safaris and luxury cruises over the next few months. Year-round favorites like the Rosewood properties in Mayakoba and Baha Mar remain popular with my clients as well. On that note, all of the Baha Mar properties are booking quite often, as are several luxury properties in Turks & Caicos (Ritz-Carlton and Amanyara) as well Mexico (Nizuc in Cancun and Grand Velas in Cabo).”
Linda de Sosa of Houston, TX said: “Fall and winter business is slower than the super summer, but still good. Several clients have wanted to take the family to resorts, but prices have been too high.”
De Sosa has had multiple clients going to a variety of places such as Alaska for the northern lights, Hawaii for the sun, Portugal and Italy in Europe, and Patagonia and Peru in South America.
The continuing daily airline cancellations “are making life hell,” de Sosa says, adding: “It’s not just the cancellation. We have to rearrange the transfers, if possible, and then hotel and tour dates change.
“Some clients are no longer seeking transfers upon arrival, too hard to change at the last minute. One client was due to arrive at 9 a.m., then it got moved to 6 a.m. A driver can’t just come three hours early. Yet we have to pay them because it’s not their fault.”
Suzanne Terry of Boca Raton, FL, said: “I still have some stragglers with trips to Europe this fall, mainly the Mediterranean and Greek Islands. I sense some apprehension about traveling from some of my clients due to a rise in COVID cases.
“Since my clients are in the affluent group, the fall in the stock market is an underlying theme at the moment. Several have brought it up in our conversations. I also have had several cruise cancellations blamed on COVID because clients are not feeling comfortable on a cruise.”
Terry’s winter business is mostly to Florida or Africa.
Carrie Mahoney, Huntersville, NC said: “The fall and winter are strong; although most of the trips were booked a few months ago. I don’t seem to have as many last-minute bookings as I did in the summer.”
She noted: “Interestingly, I have people planning a lot of spring and summer 2023 but this fall and Festive season seems flat right now.” And she’s planning on “reaching out to people to see what their plans are and try and increase interest.”
Mahoney added: “I am wondering if all the news about high prices and airport chaos is turning people off, or if their pent-up demand was satisfied mostly this summer and things will be more normal again.”
Her clients are going to Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica and several Europe spots, including a Christmas Market river cruise. She added: “The airline cancellations were horrible over the summer but I’m not seeing that anymore, honestly. But it presented yet another reason why I am so strongly recommending travel protection policies.”
Kim Burns, of San Francisco, CA said: “Business has been busy, but not as crazy as the summer was.” Her clients are vacationing this fall in Europe, and in winter in the Caribbean and Mexico.
Burns added: “I don’t have any real issues with the airline cancellations as the airlines have been good about getting my passengers on alternate flights. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it doesn’t get worse.”