Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Travel Leaders Survey Finds Holiday Bookings On Par or Higher Than Last Year

The following article is from an industry organization called ASTA (American Society for Travel Agents).
I thought it would be good to post, with the hopes of providing some guidlines for booking holiday travel.
Travel Leaders Survey Finds Holiday Bookings On Par or Higher Than Last Year

By Mimi Kmet
September 10, 2012 2:09 PM

Travel Leaders Group has released a survey on trends for the upcoming holiday season that reveals that holiday travel bookings are on par with, or higher than, last year. Moreover, the survey, which polled Travel Leaders Group travel agents, indicated that the timeline for booking holiday trips — particularly those requiring travelers to fly to their destinations — is tight. Agents’ advice is to book holiday travel six months or more before departure, which means those still on the sidelines for Thanksgiving or end-of-year holidays need to act fast. Agents also are advising clients planning to travel over Spring Break 2013 to begin planning shortly.

This data is based on responses from 653 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents who specialize in leisure travel. The results are part of the larger 2012 Fall Travel Trends Survey conducted by Travel Leaders Group from July 30 through Aug. 23, in which 871 travel agents participated from the flagship Travel Leaders brand, along with Travel Leaders Group’s Luxury Travel Network, Nexion, Results! Travel, Tzell Travel Group and units.

“The holiday travel advice of our travel agents throughout the U.S. undoubtedly factors in peak travel costs and restricted airline availability,” Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben said in a statement. “While we have been known to ‘pull a rabbit out of the hat’ for many last-minute requests, it isn’t in our clients’ best interest to take those chances, and it certainly isn’t cost-effective for them, either. If travelers want maximum flexibility with travel dates, times and prices, action is required.”

According to the survey, 72.3 percent of agents reported that Thanksgiving travel booking is on par or better than last year. When asked, “Based on your knowledge and expertise, when would you advise clients to book their Thanksgiving airline tickets,” 58.6 percent of agents surveyed said clients should book their Thanksgiving airfare six months or more prior to the holiday. Thanksgiving is now less than three months away.

When asked to compare end-of-the-year holiday travel bookings (those immediately before Christmas and through the New Year’s holiday) to their 2011 bookings at this time, 76.7 percent said 2012 bookings are equal to or higher than last year. When asked, “Based on your knowledge and expertise, when would you advise clients to book their airfare for travel taking place immediately prior to Christmas through the New Year's holiday,” 74.9 percent said they would advise booking six months or more prior to the desired departure date.

However, some clients are taking a chance that their desired flight dates, times and price-range will still be available closer to the holiday. When asked, “When does a majority of your clients start inquiring about Thanksgiving airline tickets,” 45.3 percent of Travel Leaders Group agents indicated three to four months prior to the holiday, while 21.8 percent said two months prior to the holiday. When asked, “When do a majority of your clients start inquiring about air travel for dates immediately prior to Christmas through the New Year's holiday,” 68 percent said clients inquire four months or more prior to the holidays.

For Spring Break 2013 travel, agents were asked, “Typically, how far in advance do you advise your clients to make their Spring Break reservations?” Of the respondents, 62.3 percent said they advise clients to book more than six months in advance, while 33.9 percent said they advise clients to book four to six months in advance. When asked, “What are the top three reasons why clients should not wait until the last minute to book their Spring Break travel,” the top responses were: reduced airline seating capacity (75.9 percent), lock in airfare costs (61.7 percent), and lock in hotel/resort pricing (39.4 percent).

Finally, the top ways agents said they are counseling clients on getting the most value for their dollar — particularly for peak air travel dates — are: be flexible on dates to travel (84.4 percent); be flexible on time of day (59.5 percent); and book air as part of a tour or cruise package (58.4 percent).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Royal Princess - June 2013

The spectacular Royal Princess joins the Princess Cruise Line fleet in June 2013.  As a travel agent, I have had the opportunity to preview some of the design and construction over the past few months, and am in awe of the new features and improvements since Princess’ last ship was built (Ruby Princess 2007).    Princess has finally released some new marketing materials, so here are some of the highlights:

Construction of Royal Princess began on 15 March 2011 at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy when the first plate was cut.  She was launched in August 2012; fitting out continues, and Fincantieri expects to deliver her to Princess Cruises in June 2013.

The ship will measure 141,000 GRT and will have a capacity of 3,600 passengers. Her amenities will include a pair of public areas cantilevered over the side of the ship on the top deck. 

“The Sea Walk” will extend 28 feet off the edge of the ship, and is about 128 feet long. 

In addition, much like previous Princess Cruises ships, the new ship will feature expanded public areas, including the movie theater, the "Sanctuary" bar and the central Piazza atrium.

The Central Piazza is 50% larger than any other ship in the Princess Fleet, and includes eateries, unique to the Royal Princess.

Improvements to “The Sanctuary” include new offerings such as private cabanas with flat screen TVs, and refrigerators.  

Spa fare and refreshing drinks are available to guests, and are served by Sanctuary staff members that will be known as Serenity Stewards.

The Lotus Spa was not forgotten when designing the new ship.  An exclusive area of the spa, The Enclave at Lotus Spa, offers warm stone beds and a soothing hydro pool in addition to airbed recliners, neck and body massage jets and circular rain showers that alleviate stress almost instantly.    

The Royal Princess’ maiden voyage departs June 16, 2013:

7-Day Maiden Iberia Voyage


Southampton, Vigo (for Santiago de Compostela), Lisbon, Gibraltar,

Málaga (for Granada), Barcelona


Caribbean sailings start out of Fort Lauderdale at the beginning of November 2013.

Want to know more about the Royal Princess? 
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