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Late bookings, group trips, camping

Holidaymakers are holding off on booking their summer trip for 2024, new data shows.

According to a survey from online travel agent Click&Go, over 70% have yet to book their getaway.

But delaying tactics may not be wise if you’re looking to bag a good deal.

We’ve been speaking to some of the country’s travel experts about the top travel trends for 2024, and how to get the best value for money.

When should I book my holiday?

The recent travel sentiment survey by Click&Go revealed that 62% of those who have yet to book their holiday will do so in April, May or June.

Paul Hackett, CEO of Click&Go said he does not see prices dropping for travel between June and September.

“Everyone knows that booking earlier saves money,” he said.

“The closer you leave it to the departure date, the more you are likely to pay for the same holiday had you booked it a few months ago,” he added.

Mr Hackett said one way to save money is to travel earlier if possible.

“Avoid the dramatic rise in airline and accommodation costs in June by moving your dates just a few weeks earlier. You can still enjoy all the benefits of a summer holiday,” he said.

“Hotel availability and fewer crowds are two great reasons to travel earlier,” he added.

What are the top destinations for 2024?

According to the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), Spain and Portugal will be the top destinations for Irish travellers this year.

Clare Dunne, CEO of the ITAA said trips to the USA and cruise holidays are also proving popular.

“Multi-generational holidays are popular – three generations of a family going together perhaps to a house or villa, or on a cruise,” she said.

Dympna Crowley of Lee Travel in Cork said family “bucket and spade holidays” remain popular for those with younger children.

But she has noticed durations changing from the traditional 14 days to ten days or less.

“Families with older children are looking for more adventure and are willing to travel further to experience different cultures,” she said.

“Some couples or younger singles and groups, may also be looking at shorter four or five night trips as they plan a few trips in a year,” she added.

Ms Crowley said they are also seeing a surge in bookings for camping holidays in France, Italy and Spain.

Will holidays be more expensive this year?

The ITAA said some prices have increased when compared to 2023, driven by higher fuel and staffing costs.

But Mr Hackett of Click&Go said price inflation for travel seen last year has eased, and won’t be repeated in 2024.

“In 2023 there was natural price correction post pandemic and pent up demand,” he explained.

“Airlines and hoteliers may want to secure higher prices but the consumer won’t buy if they don’t see value for money,” he added.

“Travel services are perishable so the market will need to respond.”

For some though, money is not a problem.

Mr Hackett said demand for big budget holidays has returned and is growing.

“There will always be special event or roundy birthday travel and we all have the bucket list items to get through.

“Just look at the volume of savings Irish people have in the banks – and some people are choosing to spend and give themselves a really wow holiday as against leaving it to the kids and grandkids,” he added.

Has business travel fully recovered?

While Zoom and other conferencing tools have significantly impacted the corporate travel landscape, they haven’t entirely replaced the need for in-person visits.

Anthony O’Mara of corporate travel company Frosch said their business metrics, including volumes and revenue surpass pre-pandemic levels.

However, Mr O’Mara said they have seen a noticeable shift in how companies approach business travel.

“Stricter adherence to established travel policies is evident, promoting more thoughtful considerations regarding the necessity, timing, and class of travel, which in turn helps control costs without cutting back on essential trips,” he explained.

Mr O’Mara said London continues to lead as the primary destination for corporate travellers, followed by US East Coast cities, notably Boston and New York.

He said they are also noticing an uptick in travel to Asian cities, reflecting their growing importance in the global business landscape.

In order to get the best deals, Mr O’Mara said businesses should plan ahead and avoid last-minute bookings.

“Enrol in loyalty programs of major airlines and hotel chains to reap benefits or coordinate with your travel management company to manage this on your behalf to ensure your spend isn’t dilute and you receive enhanced travel experiences and rewards,” he added.

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