Hopes for a ‘Sunshine Saturday’ booking bonanza tomorrow for travel retailers both online and offline have been played down by a leading UK OTA.
The first Saturday after the New Year is being touted as a potential boom for travel sales as customers look to secure their holiday deals amid the usual flurry of New Year marketing campaigns.
Heightened expectations have even prompted the UK Foreign Office to issue advice and a YouTube video about the importance of customers also buying travel insurance.
Leading operators Thomson and First Choice have gone as far as to predict the exact moment when bookings will peak online – 8pm, half an hour earlier than last year.
The Tui-owned firms are expecting a record number of bookings via tablet devices or mobile phones with more than 42% expected to be done using these devices.
However, Chris Clarkson, managing director of online travel agency sunshine.co.uk, claims they may have got their timings out by 24 hours.
“Analysts are predicting that tomorrow will be ‘Sunshine Saturday’, the busiest day of the year for holiday bookings.
“However, when we look back at our booking trends, we’ve historically found that it’s actually the Sunday on the second weekend in January that is even busier.
“We find that some people browse and research a lot on the Saturday, but then don’t commit to the booking until the following day, which can be a sensible thing to do.
“Hunting around for the best deals, instead of booking on impulse, is much wiser.
“Also, it’s important to find a travel agency that offers low deposits – especially at this time of year when money might be tight. Instead of going into debt and booking on credit, secure a holiday with a low deposit and then save up until the final balance is due.
Clarkson added: “At this time of year, after being brought back down to earth with a thud after the Christmas festivities are over, it’s clear to see why people are so keen to give themselves something to look forward to.
“A holiday on the horizon is enough to lift anyone’s spirits, which is why – I think – this weekend is always when everyone’s on the same wavelength and out to get a holiday booked. All we’re saying is that it should be ‘Sunshine Sunday’, not Saturday.”