Travel agents are reporting high conversion rates, back-to-back customers and record sales days in the second week of the January Peaks.
Agency groups Hays Travel, Advantage Travel Partnership and Travel Counsellors all recorded record trading, with Hays and Advantage both saying Saturday 13 January was the best day of trading, and Travel Counsellors reporting Friday 12 January was its best day.
The results of a Travel Gossip poll reveal 28% of independent agents reported a ‘superb’ second week of Peaks, with 36% describing trading as ‘good’, although another 36% said it was ‘disappointing’.
Sutton Coldfield-based Sutton Travel MD Andy Tomlinson said: “Conversion rates are really high, at over 80%, which we are delighted with, and plenty of new enquiries coming through.
“Sales did taper off towards the back end of January last year, so if we can keep the current sales momentum for the remaining two weeks, then we hope it will end up being a bumper month for us.”
Essex-based The Travel Boutique owner Janette Healey, who recently moved premises from Shenfield to the village of Ingatestone, said: “I can’t believe how our December was and then January began with a bang and it’s getting busier and busier with some great conversions.
“We had a queue on 27 December and have had back-to-back walk-ins from then all the way through to this week. A couple of times yesterday people were also queuing.
“My biggest worry is keeping up. Most days I have closed at 5.30pm and headed home to start my day again, working on quotes and itineraries. It’s just like the old days and I’m loving it.
“Ironically, Sunshine Saturday was probably our quietest day for bookings and enquiries. However, I’m finding that Saturdays are quiet days for walk-ins, even though the village is quite busy. It gives me time to catch up.”
Your Co-op Personal Travel Agent Sue Glen, in mid Wales, said: “Personally, Peaks started on 27 December.
“My pre-COVID Peaks was always much better in February than January. But last year, January was better and this year to date, January has been huge. There has been a definite shift in the type of enquiries in the last week, with more long haul and multicentre/tailormade queries, and couples more than families, after the initial beach break rush.”
Lisa Taylor who runs Jrt Travel, in Glasgow, reported ‘strong sales from the start of the New Year’. She added: “It’s been a great start to 2024, although I will need a holiday after this month!
“I am running a little incentive for my clients. Everyone who books this January will be entered in a prize draw for a lodge break. I’ve had lots of first-time bookers as well as regulars.”
Advantage, Travel Counsellors and Hays report record sales days
A single £1.2m booking helped Travel Counsellors achieve the best sales week in the group’s 30-year history last week. Travel Counsellors won’t reveal any more details about the mammoth booking, except to say it came through on Friday 12 January, was a corporate booking and helped the group achieve sales of more than £7.5m in a single day.
In addition, Travel Counsellors agents made a record-breaking 8,814 individual bookings totalling £31.1m of sales last week, which was the biggest in company history.
The Advantage Travel Partnership achieved all-time record high sales last week and said Saturday 13 January was the busiest day ever recorded, with members taking a 19% share of the week’s bookings.
Over the last week, Advantage saw bookings up 14% and revenue up 23% when compared to the same week last year. In comparison to the previous week, bookings were up 35%, revenue was up 41% and the average booking value was up by 5% on the previous week and 7% on the same week last year.
Advantage CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said said the consortia is seeing ‘monumental demand for travel from the British public’.
Hays Travel also said last Saturday was the best day in its trading history.
Chair Dame Irene Hays said: “Saturday 13 January was the best trading day in Hays Travel’s history and a record day for our Hays Travel Independence Group members too. Despite the ongoing cost of living challenges, we know that people are willing to prioritise their annual holiday over other non-essential spend.”
Inspire agents also had a good week. Group Managing Director Lisa Henning said: “Across our retail and homeworking businesses, we have had a really strong weekend, with bookings exceeding expectations and two particular trends standing out.
“The book-to-travel date is short, with many of those booking departing within the next eight weeks, and the average value is really strong.”
And accommodation supplier Youtravel.com reported that 11 January was its best trading day since the company formed in 2006, with growth in long haul bookings to the US and Thailand as well as popular Mediterranean beach product.
* Since this story was published, Youtravel has issued another update to say 15 January is now its best trading day, with the company achieving an increase in business of 6% over 11 January.