Comment: Exciting times ahead and some big plate-spinning

Newmarket Holidays’ Richard Forde hails a surge in bookings, particularly for long-haul, once-in-a-lifetime holidays

After what felt like the darkest period in time for the travel industry, we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Constantly changing travel rules and regulations have wreaked havoc on customers’ plans and company bookings, but now it seems that things have taken a turn for the better and will only continue to do so.

Following the removal of the pre-departure test for vaccinated arrivals to the UK, the latest positive move for the travel industry has been the scrapping of Passenger Locator Forms.

This final step should set us off on a much smoother path as we head into the summer months, alongside the success of the booster programme, which has led to an increase in customer confidence.

These recent actions have resulted in a surge in customer bookings, particularly for long-haul, once-in-a-lifetime holidays.

It’s evident that customers are eager to make up for lost time and act on their well-thought-out wish-list holidays by travelling to far-flung destinations.

The strong sales have come as a relief, but it’s important to keep in mind that getting the balance of 2022 bookings to future bookings is essential for everyone’s business.

Additionally, the labour-intensive work of dealing with existing and new amendments with reduced labour resources is proving another challenge.

The time it takes to source new candidates to fill roles post-pandemic and subsequently train them to a high standard are some of the further challenges experienced by the travel industry nationwide.

Although customers have had a chance to save up during the pandemic and are ready to commit to bigger, multiple trips or extensions, they’re still looking for value for money.

This is where Atas and an escorted tour comes in – offering a complete package, including flights, transfers, accommodation, and an on-the-ground reassurance of an experienced tour manager.

Multi-centre tours are also proving popular among customers, and tours such as our Kenya – Beach & Safari have remained consistent bestsellers.

This programme is seeing a rise in bookings given its combined offerings of a safari, an inland tour, and a beach stay holiday all for an incredibly reasonable price.

Kenya – Grand Safari has also been added to our programme, which has options of four and seven-night Mombasa beach extensions, giving customers greater flexibility to personalise their holidays.

Our Africa programme, in particular South African safari tours, has proven to be our fastest-growing range for 2022-24.

We believe that the appeal of these tours is that they operate on a small group basis of approximately 16 people, and they are centred around open-air activities, ensuring a wish-list travel experience that feels safer.

What is appealing for agents is that these safaris also attract younger families, so appeal to a wider demographic of customers, not just the 50+ age group that normally you associate with touring.

This gives agents a greater possibility of earning that all important 2022 commission revenue.

Good luck everyone – keep those plates spinning!

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