Though corporate travel is predicted to be subdued through 2010, tour operators are seeing signs of life in the leisure market. A report in Travel Weekly indicates that, like many other industries, tour operators faced a 1182079_ship_in_alaskadown market in the first part of 2009. It seemed consumers had put the brakes on all spending. They took fewer leisure trips because they were concerned about the economy (19%), concerned about household budgets (16%) or were just cutting back on spending in general (15%).  But by the middle of this year, several businesses reported an increase in business.

The increase has not been significant enough to anticipate that 2009 will come out ahead of 2008 across the industry but businesses quoted in the Travel Weekly article noted more bookings through August and that included the luxury market. The renewed interest in travel means “short lead-time bookings” are up. Operators are also coming into the time of year that involves holiday travel and many hope that consumers who stayed home this summer will travel for the holidays.

The good news for the 2010 market stems from the following details in the report:

  • Some consumers are booking early for tours next year because they have postponed leisure travel since 2008
  • Operators are offering great value because of rates they previously negotiated and which will hold through 2011

To attract leisure travelers, tour operators may be promoting the value of their packages which are less expensive than if consumers tried to book the various travel legs and activities on their own. To reach consumers and compete with travel agents, as well as individual travel services, tour operators may also be marketing heavily online.  Consumers of all ages are increasingly using the Internet to educate themselves about leisure travel.

[Source: Consumer Trends 2009, Travel Weekly, Summer 2009]