Travel agency and tour operator brands will have to keep up with the changing demands of holidaymakers or go out of businesses, travel industry analysts have warned.
The comments have been prompted by statistics that show more consumers are now booking their holidays just weeks before going away. This could lead to traditional brands, which book trips several months in advance, being squeezed out of the market by companies offering more flexible deals.
The figures, which have been compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers analyst Guy Gillon and research company TripVision, show that only 4% of travellers booked trips within a month of leaving last year, but this figure has risen to 27% this year.
The change reflects growing demand for flexibility among consumers who no longer wish to commit ten months in advance to a two-week holiday in the summer, and prefer to take more short breaks throughout the year.
According to Gillon, it is not just methods of booking holidays that are changing – consumers are moving away from the package and beach deals that once dominated Britons’ trips abroad.
Gillon says: “Consumers’ buying habits in terms of the style of holidays being purchased are growing in diversity and the industry needs to recreate itself, becoming more flexible to allow for such promiscuity.”
Whereas city breaks, package and beach holidays are only predicted to rise between 5% and 7% in the next five years, sea cruises, holidays – including sports, wildlife, spa and health treatments and adventure activities – are expected to increase by 200%Gillon warns high street retail brands not to stretch themselves by trying to cover every option demanded by consumers, but to “be strategic and specialise in niche customers, destinations or activities” instead.