The autumn offers key selling opportunities and the chance to capitalise on some emerging trends, says Newmarket Holidays head of trade sales Richard Forde
With children gearing up for their return to school, the travel industry is preparing for a key selling period – and the opportunity to capitalise on some emerging booking patterns.
As many of my fellow members of Atas have written previously, two great opportunities for the travel trade lie in challenging perceptions of the ‘typical’ touring customer, and in identifying when to promote particular products.
At Newmarket, this time of year invariably sees a spike in long-haul sales for next year, before interest in New England and The Fall holidays grows as the leaves start to change colour – with customers looking either for late availability for this year or to book early for next autumn.
As the temperature drops further, interest returns for festive breaks and Lapland trips, bolstering sales from earlier in the year – we are offering 11 Lapland flights this year and some had sold out by July!
When it comes to festive breaks, it pays to disregard the perception of an old-fashioned Turkey and Tinsel trip with Christmas dinner in November. Some European Christmas Markets holidays now are more akin to a tempting European City break with a bit of shopping thrown in, which opens these trips to a much wider and younger audience and is always good for an eye-catching promotion or window display for customers looking for one last break of the calendar year.
As we leave summer behind, we also see the television schedules start to get a bit more serious, and with mini-series, documentaries and dramas often hinging around a particular destination, this can also lead to bookings.
This year we have seen a boost in India bookings helped along by the Marigold Hotel and Joanna Lumley. River cruising has been aided by Jane McDonald on the water. And we never rule out old-standing classics – Portmeirion is still popular from the Prisoner series in the 1970s!
To capitalise on this appeal, we often use a television theme in the tour title to tempt passengers – the Call The Midwife tour in Canterbury, Poldark’s Cornwall and the Emmerdale Studio tour to name but a few. Agents need to capitalise on this too, by displaying these eye-catching tours in windows, A-boards and, for a younger audience, on Facebook pages.
As tour operators, we are always open to ideas, so if your customers are asking for a certain destination because they have seen it on TV or in a film – do ask us and we will pester our product teams to put something together.
So the summer is almost over, but the opportunities for sales with the nights drawing in are endless. If you want to know what’s selling, contact your local BDMs who will tell you what is selling regionally and nationally, and should be able to oblige with marketing collateral.
And as I said earlier, don’t be afraid to embrace emerging – and sometimes surprising – trends. Last year we had a surprise success with the Isle of Man, which beat some of the more established destinations, and just goes to show there is always something to learn!