Travel costs are expected to remain high this year, travel advisors said. (photo via iStock/Getty Images Plus/Evgen_Prozhyrko)
Higher travel prices are here to stay, at least for a while say advisors, who noted that rising costs do not appear to be affecting their clients’ vacation plans in any dramatic way.
“Still coming off the heels of 2020 where the industry faced its hardest challenge ever, rates have come back and surpassed where they used to be,” said James Berglie, president of Be All Inclusive, which specializes in romance travel.
“Of course, it’s not only the desire to make up for losses experienced then, but the travel industry is also not immune to the effects of inflation just like every other industry,” Berglie continued. “We believe pricing will remain high and even increase further as demand is through the roof with resorts fully sold out on the regular and new weddings looking to secure their dates for 2025.
“As long as we see demand still extremely high, pricing will remain high and the impacts of inflation will continue to cause them to grow as well.”
Mona Deane, owner of Horizon Escapes, also believes price increases are here to stay through 2023. “The cost of living has gone up and minimum wages have gone up – and the world is excited to travel again since the pandemic. This is causing extreme limited availability at resorts.”
Cal Cheney, owner of Bucket List Travel and Tours, had a similar take on the pricing situation. “To me, it seems like higher hotel prices have been the most noticeable. Also, domestic flights to warmer climates have definitely been painful.”
Nonetheless, Cheney, who caters to an older clientele, is also witnessing pent-up demand.
“At their age, they realize they might only have a few more years to check off the bucket list trips. If anyone seems concerned about prices, I take the opportunity to point out that the dollar is strong in Europe, so the cost of the trip might actually be lower in total.”
Airfare is arguably also an issue when it comes to rising costs.
“Air prices are just crazy right now, and we do not see this changing any time soon,” said JoAnne Weeks, vacation division manager at Acendas Travel. “Airlines are trying to recoup from the loss of these last three years, and it’s all based on supply and demand. Factor in reduced scheduling, gas pricing and staff shortages and it’s a perfect storm.”
Clients are noticing the higher prices.
“We have had pushback on air and hotel costs and have had to get creative on days of travel (days during the week is better than weekends and time of year (heading toward the shoulder season or to cities that may not as well-known or as popular).
For price-conscious clients, she also suggests shorter stays or less expensive room categories.
“This hasn’t slowed our business down, Week said. “People may be more mindful of costs, but they sure are still traveling!”
She added, “The days of any last-minute deals are out the window. Plan ahead or plan to pay.”
For his part, Berglie said that while “we can never tell our clients what is the appropriate budget for their trip, we can tell them that generally speaking prices are on the rise, so it is best to lock in your group contracts as soon as possible as opposed to waiting.”
One relatively bright spot on the pricing front is cruising, said Ryan Doncsecz, group manager at VIP Vacations.
“The cruise market has absolutely exploded to start the 2023 booking season,” he said, adding that in many cases rates remain affordable. “Many companies are offering great perks, including Virgin Voyages with complimentary alcohol credits.”
Doncsecz is also promoting Mexico. “It has an abundance of high-quality resorts and airlift from many parts of the US at good prices.”
For other destinations, Doncsecz said he looks for airfare that won’t make clients balk and “then will use that as my guide for piecing the rest” of the vacation together.
Like other advisors, Doncsecz is optimistic about the future.
“I think demand for different destinations will continue to even out as each branch of tourism pieces back together, he said. “Europe was very inexpensive as it came back to high demand, but once it was up to busy standards air costs went right back up.
“When occupancy levels even out, the pricing should as well.”
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