New Indian Express

Don’t go on footloose holidays, book early to keep costs under control

On the surge in booking demand, Pant said early trends show booking in excess of 20 per cent for TCIL, which is better than industry growth.

NEW DELHI: Come summer, and we think vacation! With the peak holiday season approaching, it would be only wise to book one’s vacation well in advance, to avoid the last-minute rush. Industry veterans say people save as much as 35 per cent on vacation expenses if they plan and book early.

“When people book early, we are able to secure their airline tickets and hotel bookings at a much lesser cost. For example, tickets are much cheaper when there are 200 seats available than when there are only 50 seats. Same goes for the hotels as well,” explained Romil Pant, SVP-Leisure Travel, Thomas Cook India (TCIL).

At present, a six-night-seven-day budget Europe tour costs around `1-1.20 lakh. While in normal circumstances, Pant said, there’s a chance that the tour expenditure could go up 20-25 per cent during peak season, in certain cases when there’s a rush for airline tickets, it can escalate by 30-35 per cent.

Also, appreciation in the value of rupee against major global currencies in the recent months from the lows of the third quarter can be another good reason to book a holiday in advance.

Pant said that compared to the October-December period, Rupee-US Dollar equation is not very bad now and that they have done their best by engaging with vendors to absorb the cost as much as possible. However, on an average, holiday packages are 3-4 per cent more expensive this year, he added.

On the surge in booking demand, Pant said early trends show booking in excess of 20 per cent for TCIL, which is better than industry growth.

Another major player in the segment, SOTC Travel Services, said that with the summer holidays just round the corner, families are gearing up to explore destinations and do subsequent bookings before prices surge close to May.

“There is significant growth in bookings during summer holidays. We hope to continue the same trend this year with tailor-made vacation itineraries for families with the choicest of attractions,” said Daniel D’Souza, president and country head (leisure), SOTC.

Standard destinations such as Western Europe, the United States, Australia, Singapore and Thailand continue to remain the first choice for travellers, but there is a significant surge in new destinations such as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Japan and Korea.

Karan Anand, head (relationships), Cox and Kings, said, “In summer, the top holiday destinations are in Europe — namely the UK, France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. In Eastern Europe, the demand is for Croatia, Czech Republic and Poland. New emerging destinations are Latvia and Lithuania.”

Cost-wise, new destinations are more expensive than the standard ones in their respective geographies, with the exception of Eastern Europe. Another way to save extra bucks is to travel in groups as group trips are 30-40 per cent cheaper than travelling solo.

Sea and ocean exploration is also on the rise among Indian travellers. According to Neelu Singh, CEO & director, Ezeego1, this summer, more and more millennials are taking to the seas and spending at least two nights in cruises in and around Asia.

“Increased competition, value-for-money cruise and fly offers by leading cruise liners like Star Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Dream Cruises and Princess Cruises are ensuring a hike in the number of cruise visitors this summer,” Singh added further.

Singapore and Hong Kong are major cruise hubs for Indians and a typical three-night-two-day trip on these routes starts around `40,000, which include free meals and limited entertainment. Exquisite cruise tours that start from Barcelona, Alaska, Norway and ones that go till Antarctica have also caught the fancy of domestic travellers. The expenditure of such tours runs easily into lakhs.

Points to remember