There has been quite a bit in the news about rate parity (hotels setting minimum rates that online travel agencies are allowed to sell) and the consolidation of travel companies (Expedia and Priceline own 80% of America’s online travel agencies), yet we find that most travelers simply want a hassle-free booking experience with the best available rates for the hotels in any given location.
However, with the “Big Two” online websites’ huge advertising budgets of more than $2 billion, consumers will have to weed through the clutter a bit to find a booking experience that best suits them.
We surveyed the leadership team and travel agents at Last Minute Travel to gather insights into the trends for the first third of 2015.
Q. What cities did travelers stay in most this year?
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Orlando, Florida
- New York, New York
- Miami, Florida
- Kissimmee, Florida (Near Disney World!)
- Cancun, Mexico
With rates in Las Vegas remaining attractively low (4 star hotels as low as $53 per night) and the addition of activities (i.e. the High Roller which is the world’s tallest observation wheel and a tour of Chichen Itza with a private archaeologist, just to name a couple) are keeping these cities in the forefront of vacationers’ minds.
Q. Are travelers really booking in the last minute?
The average time between booking and check-in is 26 days and the median time is 11 days. With the introduction of travel apps, such as Last Minute Travel Deals, anyone can book a hotel for the next day, or even the same day. However, it is still the exception to the rule (accounting for less than 5% of bookings). Airline reservations should still be done at least 21 days in advance to secure the lowest rates, generally speaking.
Q. What are the trends in international travel?
While Cuba may be getting the headlines for its up and coming travel opportunities, Europe is getting the business. With the strength of the dollar helps your dollar go further in Europe, Paris is the recipient of the most bookings so far this year, though London will likely surpass that mark as it usually does each year. Cancun and nearby Playa del Carmen will continue to draw more American travelers than any other international destination due to its favorable location, easy access, and fabulous resorts at low rates.
Q. What was the busiest week for check-ins?
The week of March 22 – 28 has had the most check-ins so far. Think: Spring Break – up about 18% over last year.
Q. Is Last Minute Travel Club growing memberships?
Yes, at an accelerated pace! The Last Minute Travel Club has garnered more than 40,000 new members in 2015, partly due to partnerships with employee benefits companies, and exposure within media, such as on Oprah’s OWN, E! Network, Lifetime Movie Network and more.
Q. Why are people joining Last Minute Travel Club?
With everything you need for travel at a discount (hotels, flights, car rentals, activities and more), members get wholesale rates that cannot be found anywhere else on the web because of rate parity contracts.
Q. What can we expect for the rest of 2015?
Look for ecotourism to continue to be popular, as well as hotels catering to Millennials (i.e. free wifi and charging stations), and smaller, more boutique-type hotels that have personalized service.