Tourism industry has changed a lot after the pandemic, but what has changed the most is the travellers’ opinion, especially in terms of booking their trip. Industry stalwarts say travellers now consider many factors, including visa and airfares while planning a trip.
According to a Booking.com research, going ahead, early planning will be a popular strategy with 61 per cent of the travellers, particularly Gen X (60%) and Baby Boomers (54%). However, millennials will plan more last-minute trips (53%).
Arshdeep Anand, Co-Founder and CEO, Holiday Moods Adventures, feels that the booking windows are being currently driven by the visa availability for international sectors, airfare and hotel prices for the domestic destinations. “Although a larger booking window is required for international travel, last-minute plans are more prevalent for domestic destinations,” she said.
After the pandemic, which instilled fear and uncertainty among the travellers, last-minute bookings have been on the rise. Highlighting the trend, Rohit Walter, Vice President, Sales & Operations (NI), Concord Exotic Voyages, said that initially, due to uncertainty about the destination and the post-COVID situation, inbound clients booked closer to the travel date because they did not want to go through the process of cancellation on airfare and hotels, but the pattern has changed and close to 40 per cent of bookings are now done in advance, with the remaining 60 per cent booked closer to the date. “With the e-visa problem sorted out, the last-minute bookings are still in system. But in domestic business due to high demand of popular destinations clients are booking well in advance. Again, in driving down destination still late booking are in existence,” he said.
Ashok Dhoot, Founder, Harsh Tour & Travels, said, “Travellers are now planning their trips at the last minute, necessitating the need for last-minute booking.” According to him, there is a shift in travelling time. “Domestic travel was in high demand during the winter season of 2022, with the majority of travellers making last-minute reservations,” he added.
Sunil C. Gupta, Managing Director, Travel Bureau, said, “The traveller’s confidence is building up since the COVID protocols are being removed. As a result, last-minute bookings are coming up. Corporate and business travel is picking up and some big conferences are also happening.”
On the contrary, KD Singh, Founder and President, TravelBullz.com, feels the customers have become much wiser since the pandemic, and they are booking “slightly” ahead of their travel dates. “90 per cent to 85 per cent of travellers plan their trips in advance, while 10 to 15 per cent make last-minute reservations because it’s very easy, especially in countries where visas are on arrival or the visa regime is good and they don’t need long term planning. However, many travellers now plan much before the travel dates because they know they will get better deals if they book in advance,” he said.
Sharing the same opinion, P. P. Khanna, Director, Diplomatic Travel Point, said, “Earlier, we used to sell products at the last minute, with the destination of the traveller’s choice not always being available, but this has changed since the pandemic. Travellers are now making reservations in advance.”