The holiday evolution

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Coinciding with the collapse of Thomas Cook has come the argument that the package holiday is on the verge of extinction as well.

family running on beach
how will holidays evolve?

Nothing is further from the truth. At the moment.

When the travel industry hugged the internet with such glee that every tour operation, destination and attraction had to have a strong digital marketing presence, trendy management thinking was that the customer would create their holiday and then book the various elements online.  A presence on the high street where people would wander in and browse brochures for hours and then use of the expertise of a travel agent to book would fade into the memory of history books,

Initially that seemed correct as the numbers booking package holidays dropped. With memories long forgotten about the collapse of ILG, people thought that there would be no more holiday company collapses of that scale. Then, about ten years ago came the demise of XL a company that began as an airline and then became a package tour operator as well.

Spring forward to 2016 and there was the end of lowcostbeds and that alarmed the travelling public more than I think the industry noticed at the time. The owners of the company had switched their domicile from the UK to Mallorca so there was no ATOL bonding or any other protection. Over 140,000 people were affected and many realised the value of buying a holiday from an ATOL bonded or other bonded travel company.

Then, in 2017, Monarch went under leaving those who had just booked flights facing problems whereas holiday makers had the bonding to protect them.

Once again, it reminded people of the importance of being bonded. Sales of package holidays not only stabilised but grew slightly as the total market expanded. With the demise of Thomas Cook that security offered by bonding is likely to be reinforced in people’s minds.

The other feature that has kept package holiday numbers up is from a source that people in the early years of the twenty-first century didn’t expect. It came from those most attracted by the digital age. These millennials could operate a mobile phone keyboard faster than I could type. They were avid consumers of internet products but they also quickly realised that “packaging” a holiday could take time, time that they were using for other things. So they began using packagers of holidays like Expedia, Lastminute and e-bookers.

Hotel and accommodation booking sites suddenly started bolting flights on to the accommodation they were offering. Airlines started adding accommodation and then excursions and attractions. The granddaddy of accommodation reviews, TripAdvisor suddenly bit the hand that fed it and became a packager of accommodation and other holiday business. Can flights be too far behind?

The EU drafted a new package holiday directive to update what constitutes a package so that when someone follows a link from one website to another and therefore books two or more elements then that constitutes a package, this gave protection to a wider group of people.

It also widened the definition of a package holiday so – at a stroke – the EU has probably cause the “package” holiday to grow in numbers over the next few years.

The “package” holiday is here to stay. At least for a little bit longer and people who say it is on the way out haven’t realised that it has just evolved.  

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