It’s the summer of 2022 all over again: Already, some European suppliers are fully booked for certain periods, even as demand among clients remains high, and air and hotel costs are high. Newly added to the mix this year is Japan, which recently reopened and is experiencing a surge of interest.
In short, “Business is booming for the summer,” Sharon Fake, executive director of Raleigh, N.C.-based host agency Travel Experts, said in a release. “But our advisors are stressed and overwhelmed by the difficulties in securing the air, hotels and tours, especially in the luxury markets which are our primary focus.”
Travel Experts recently surveyed advisors about what they’re experiencing and found Europe and Japan top consumers’ lists this summer.
Of course, other destinations are popular as well.
For instance, Lauren Parry, of Travel Therapy RX in Oxford, Miss., said business is split between the Caribbean, Central America and Europe.
Cynthia Madsen, of Bach Travels in Orlando, said clients want “the three I’s,” or Italy, Iceland and Ireland.
Recent data from Allianz Partners confirms what advisors are experiencing. After analyzing summer travel itineraries, Allianz found that travel to Europe will be up 55% this summer. That comes after travel to Europe surged last year, with a 600% increase in Americans traveling there.
And while phones are certainly ringing, advisors reported a number of snags: high prices, difficulty securing airfare and a lack of availability with suppliers, especially drivers and guides.
“We thought Europe was busy last year, but this year proves to be so much more hectic,” Madsen said.
Italy remains a perennial favorite for summer travel. Gina DiPrima, of Prima Italy in Livermore, Calif., said the phone was ringing “off the hook” for Italy requests. Calls started early, especially from clients who weren’t able to get there in 2022.
“By the beginning of January, I was almost at my max capacity, which is a situation I’ve never found myself in before,” DiPrima said.
Now, finding inventory is very difficult, DiPrima added.
Destination management companies in Italy, Japan, Spain and Croatia are no longer taking new requests, according to Margot Kong of Journeys Unparalleled in San Francisco.
Holly Lombardo of Lombardo Travel in Atlanta agreed, noting many vendors in Western Europe aren’t accepting new requests after July 1.
And while it’s taking longer to plan trips, and finding inventory has been difficult, Lombardo did point to a bright spot.
“Travelers are also beginning to ask about more ‘hidden’ destinations,” Lombardo said. “Clients specifically are looking for more authentic and less crowded places.”
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