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BLOG: Increased demand hikes holiday costs

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04/02/2021
Would-be holidaymakers may face higher costs for their domestic breaks this year, with a host of travel firms reporting booming demand.

It remains unclear exactly what sort of holiday period Brits are in for in 2021. This week Boris Johnson, the prime minister, said he was “optimistic” people would be able to have summer holidays, though there is still plenty of uncertainty about whether Brits will be able to head overseas.

And a succession of domestic travel firms have pointed to booming demand for those looking to get away within the UK.

For example, James Boyce, managing director of the cottage rental business Hideaways Holiday Group, said that it was gearing up for its busiest ever year, with bookings for 2021 up by 56% on this time last year.

He commented: “It does mean we would advise guests to book early to avoid disappointment as availability, particularly over popular dates is tight.” 

It’s a similar story from Steve Jarvis, who runs independentcottages.co.uk, who reports that searches and booking enquiries are up by 40% on last January. And while he said that he isn’t seeing any price hikes off the back of this increased demand, “I think it’s fair to say that holidaymakers might not get an ‘early bird discount’” for booking now.

Meanwhile the camping firm Coolcamping says that Sunday 31st January was its biggest day for bookings, at more than 10 times the daily booking volume compared to the average in January 2020. What’s more, the firm reckons that the length of bookings is up, which it argues may be down to people committing to longer domestic holidays when they might normally have been planning to head abroad.

And when demand starts to rise, there may also be a knock-on impact on price too.

My own experience

Last year I spent four days at a holiday park on the south coast with my family, and hoped to book a similar stay for the end of the June half term this year. But delaying going through with the booking for a couple of days meant the price we were quoted rocketed.

When we first looked last week, a three-day stay would cost around £450. Within a few days that same stay had jumped in price to £666, and has now risen once again to £740.

This isn’t an isolated incident either, with holiday search engine Holidu telling the Daily Mail that the price of domestic holidays in July and August is up by 39% and 28% respectively on last year.

Clearly demand is such that some holiday firms are in a position to charge more and still attract interest from those of us desperate for the prospect of having something positive in the diary.

Do I need to rush?

However, while holiday firms may be seeing big spikes in demand, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to rush in order to secure a spot this year.

Of course, certain dates and locations are going to be more in demand. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon for holidays to become significantly more expensive over the school holidays.

But if you can be flexible about where you go, and when, then there is no shortage of options according to a new study from consumer champions Which?

It went through a host of travel sites, like Cottages.com and Hoseasons, and found plenty of availability for families, even during the most in-demand periods. 

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, commented: “While it’s clear there has been an increase in interest in summer holidays this year as the vaccine rollout continues to rebuild confidence in travelling, our findings suggest claims that holidaymakers need to book now to avoid missing out are not necessarily true.

“It remains unclear when non-essential travel will be allowed again. It’s also risky to book a holiday in the near-future, as even if you do receive a vaccine in time for your booking, some countries may remain closed to visitors whether they are vaccinated or not. Anyone thinking of booking a holiday should consider waiting, and only use a company that offers flexible booking options and refund policies.”

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