Last week, Travel Weekly published the results of the 2015 Consumer Trends survey. Any agent worth their salt should take some time to read the results, and adjust their business accordingly; or at least see if their business needs adjusting. The topic that caught my eye was that consumers say they will be (or have been) taking shorter vacations—quick getaways versus the 7-night or longer trips. I can concur with that from my own experience and have adjusted my business to meet that need.
I have a niche agency and had been specializing in single parent travel for more than a decade when the first “specialize, specialize, specialize” mantra was uttered. It has worked very well for me. While I certainly have to know my market like the back of my hand, I also need to make sure that I keep an eye on the other trends—if I miss too many of them, I risk my business failing. It is a fine line for sure.
My agency offers a mix of group trips—some quick and easy, some “packaged” trips, and some complex FIT trips. Some of the trips are repeat trips, and others are new experiences, but similar in cost and duration. In 2015, I found that the interest in a 7-night group to the Caribbean was not nearly what it was in 2014. While I could have simply chalked it up to some circumstance and just gone with a smaller group, I decided to experiment a little.
I ran a few online ads, and added “another” trip to our summer schedule. This one was a 5-night trip to the same destination. Actually, it was the same original trip, I just lopped a few days from the end. The response was much better than the 7-night trip.
In the end, I wound up running both trips and explained to the 7-nighters that the group would be shrinking the last two days. Because of the experiment, I was able to actually realize a 20% growth in commission over the same trip in 2014. Had I stuck with the 7-night trip alone, I would have seen a loss.
Another regular trip I do is for a long weekend at a family resort in upstate New York. It is a convenient drive or train from pretty much the entire northeast to mid-Atlantic region. We do these trips twice a year, and in the past, we typically saw 15 to 20 families. However, our April 2015 spiked to 32. And for our November trip, we already have 9 families under deposit without any marketing—just a targeted newsletter to our database.
Seeing this shift to shorter days, we are revising our future trips. While we still will offer a few longer trips, we will be adding several shorter ones to supplement as needed.
Travel Weekly has suggested that suppliers and agents are not seeing this trend despite the consumer’s responses. I am; and I wonder if I am alone? Have you seen the trip duration of your clients drop?