Holiday and cruise prices for summer holding firm, say agents

By Juliet Dennis and Josie Klein

Holiday and cruise prices for summer are holding firm as agents report buoyant trading despite lower volumes of family bookings.
The positive outlook follows Barclays data showing year‑on‑year growth in card spending in agencies fell back to 4.3% during a “challenging” May, down from 7.1% in April, although transaction levels grew strongly, up 11.5%.

Barclays predicted a “gradual acceleration in consumer spending over the next 12 months” as a result of expected interest rate reductions.

The Advantage Travel Partnership said members’ sales already reflected an improvement in consumer spend at the start of June, while overall pricing and margins were also “holding up”.

Kelly Cookes, chief commercial officer, said: “The picture is mixed but overall spend is up versus May and significantly up versus 2023.”

Despite slower lower-end family sales, school holiday bookings were “strong” in a “buoyant lates market in terms of volumes”, she said.

Designer Travel managing director Amanda Matthews agreed: “Trading is good, lates are coming in and representing over 50% of our business. Long-haul sales are a little softer but overall positive for us.”

Sandra Corkin, managing director of Northern Ireland-based chain Oasis Travel, said family sales were starting to rise. She noted: “We are seeing some price reductions but nothing too drastic, which is good news.”

Richard Hadfield, chief executive of Uttoxeter-based Journeys à la Carte, said: “Prices are holding up. We’re pleasantly surprised and happy.”

Heidi Evans, director of Oasis Travel in Stoke, said poor weather had boosted late sales despite unrealistic price expectations from families. “The weather has done us a favour. It’s been so busy,” she said.

Late cruise sales have also stayed strong, according to Fred Olsen Travel, with prices remaining firm.

Retail director Paul Hardwick said: “Some shorter weekend cruises are being reduced aggressively but most cruises of a week or longer are not being discounted too much [and] there’s still plenty of availability.”

Iglu Cruise chief commercial officer Dave Mills said June sales continued to “build nicely” but admitted: “We expect customers to become more distracted by the end of the month when the Euros are in full swing and we approach the general election.”

He cited a good range of late deals but said fewer suites remained for peaks, while cruise lines were adding more inclusions “rather than dropping rates”.

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