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Temperatures Are Down, but Business Is UpJanuary 11, 2010 By: Michael Browne
Frigid temperatures and heavy snowstorms are battering much of the country, but that’s turning out to be good news for travel agents who are reporting that the cold weather is helping 2010 to get off to a good start.
“I am most definitely seeing an upswing in business for folks looking to get away from the cold,” said home-based agent Michelle Mangio of Magical Escapes, Attleboro, MA. “There's been a lot of snow this winter, too, which always helps entice people to get away.”
She adds, however, “The colder weather throughout the South, especially Florida, has presented a challenge. I haven't had any cancellations as a result of it, but I'd say that I have more people booking trips to Mexico and the Caribbean. I think part of this is also due to the airfare—in general, fares to Florida seem higher this year, and the difference between Florida and the Caribbean/Mexico in some cases is little enough—and the difference in temperature significant enough—that clients are heading to the tropics instead.”
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"Sales are definitely up in regards to upcoming trips, " said Joanne Fegan of VIP Vacations. "With this cold weather hitting so early this year I have had a ton of requests for trips in the next few weeks and most email requests start with 'send me somewhere warm.' With the winter temperatures extending down into Florida, travelers have been taking advantage of the great deals to Mexico. Secrets Maroma has been the stand out hot spot!"
Business has also been brisk for Deanna Tracey Sutherland, president of CDT Travel in Newburgh, NY. “If our clients want real warmth,” she says, “I use the three-hour-plus fly rule. If they want Florida or the Bahamas, I warn them it could be cold. It saves me time later.”
“I have had several clients come in recently to escape the cold,” says Brooke Johnson of AAA Chesapeake (VA). “We've definitely seen an increase in last-minute bookings in my office. I had a couple come in last Friday that booked a week in Mexico departing today. We've also noticed fewer people inquiring about spring break in Florida because they are worried about it not being as warm as they would like.”
The cold weather isn’t just creating a mini travel boom up north. Luke Breaux, an agent with TravelCorp International in New Orleans is also seeing a spike this January. “Since last week, we have received several e-mails from clients wanting to head south—not necessarily this week, but in the near future,” he says. “I guess this cold has gotten them to think about warm weather and sun and fun. I have since sent out proposals for the Dominican Republic, Riviera Maya, Peter Island, Scrub Island and Puerto Vallarta. With the new year finally here, people are traveling again!”
Michael Distler knows firsthand about the unseasonable weather in Florida this winter. The Admiral Travel agent, based in Sarasota, FL, notes that the temperature in southern Florida dipped into the low 30s this weekend. “With the current cold snap, even our travelers' bigger trips planned well in advance are being directed toward warmer destinations. I am sure this will change in the near future as it warms up again, but everyone seems to at least be thinking warmer thoughts to get through the chilly days and nights.”
“I can't really say if it's the weather or the fact that people are just tired of staying home, but business is up significantly from January 2009,” says Amanda Klimak, vice president, Largay Travel, Waterbury, CT. “The wonderful thing about this January is that travelers are booking trips further out. We are not seeing the close-in travel like last year, which leads me to believe that people are feeling more comfortable making long-term plans.”
Even those who, one would assume, are used to frigid temperatures are chomping at the bit to get to some warmer temperatures. "In [Minnesota], it never fails that the deep freezes of January/February cause phones to ring off the hook! Most of our clients are looking to head to Mexico/Caribbean," said Stephanie Lee of Travel Quest.
Has the cold snap boosted your business in anyway? Let us know your thoughts by sharing a comment below, voting in our poll to the right, posting on our Facebook page, tweet us at our Twitter page, or join the discussion at AgentNation.