Another survey, by retail rewards site Rakuten, shows that 71% of Canadians say inflation will impact their travel plans in 2022. Compounding the problem, 54% say they intend to take a road trip this summer – and of course, road trips typically aren’t planned with the help of a travel agent.
But at the same time, the same survey indicates that 63% of Canadians agree travel is more important now than it was before the pandemic.
And 45% of respondents said the cost of flights within Canada has resulted in them deciding to travel outside the country. High levels of international travel are music to the ears of the travel trade.
Now we’re hearing from agents who tell us that while some travellers are price-wary, others vacationers are taking the ‘revenge travel’ trend to heart and booking bucket-list trips while they can, after two-plus-years of little to no travel.
“FOR MANY CLIENTS, THIS IS THE YEAR OF REVENGE TRAVEL”
Ayesha Patel, a travel consultant with The Travel Next Door, says she’s seeing a mix of reactions from clients. “Some think that travel is back to pre-COVID days and that includes pricing,” says Patel. “They’re finding the jump in cost to travel now to be so high that they are holding off travelling somewhere far like Europe until they can save more money and choosing to stay closer to home in the meantime.”
Adds Patel: “But I also have clients who haven’t traveled for over two years, are fully aware of the rising costs and are willing to pay for it. They have saved their money and are open to compromising on certain things as long as they can get away. For them, this is the year of revenge travel.”
Travel advisor Michelle Whalen with Uniglobe Enterprise Travel Ltd. says she too has had her share of travellers looking for ‘COVID specials’. “Consumers I’ve talked to mistakenly think [travel companies are] trying to recoup from COVID and make up for the losses. People haven’t travelled in two to three years so they forget every year we would see an inflation increase anyways.”
Whalen adds: “I don’t find the pricing is discouraging my clients though. They reason, ‘well, I didn’t travel for two years so I’m putting that towards this vacation.’ Or ‘I’ve missed out on great memories with family and friends and it’s worth the cost to me.’ I really haven’t had many clients waffle on the price and therefore not book. They are determined to not take life, family and friends, and travel for granted.”
Carrie Anne Gillespie, a travel advisor based in Regina, SK, agrees that money worries for her clientele seem to be minimal.
“Travel is back and people are ready to go, with cost being of very little concern. Like everything, the cost of travel has increased significantly but this is not stopping them from booking. If anything, the clients are booking more luxurious accommodations or checking off their big bucket list trips,” says Gillespie.
One of her multi-generational family groups booked two weeks at Walt Disney World, staying in deluxe properties. “Their price was over US$18,000 per room!”
TRAVEL BUDGET STRATEGIES
Every sector of the travel industry is feeling the pinch of higher prices, even if rising rates aren’t impacting bookings too badly.
“Although global dynamics have put pressure on vacation prices, agents can feel confident that there are still many destinations offering a variety of all inclusive resort experiences for every budget that their clients can enjoy,” says a Sunwing spokesperson.
Sunwing’s wallet-friendly recommendations include favourite spots in the Sunwing easy entry destination of Cuba, including the adults-only Memories Caribe Beach Resort in Cayo Coco and the family-friendly Be Live Experience Varadero.
We also checked in with Denise Heffron, Uplift’s Managing Director, Commercial for the Canadian market, to ask about the rise in popularity of buy now, pay later programs for anyone looking to space out their travel payments.
Heffron says she’s hearing about extremely strong demand when it comes to travel. “Not hearing that business has dropped at all yet and we are not experiencing this. Agents are definitely back to business and they are more engaged and valuable than ever.”
To read the full article, including when experts believe prices will come down and tips for travel advisors on how to minimize the impact of high prices, check out the July 21 issue of Travelweek here.
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