How Spring Break 2007 Is Shaping Up

Images of college students, bathing suits, and beer cans dotting the beach usually typifies one's notion of Spring Break. True, that is a significant part of Spring Break, and it's what most students have in mind when booking a trip with a travel agent. However, Spring Break can also be lucrative for travel agents honing in on family and multi-generational travel.

 Spring breakers in Puerto Vallarta, one of this year's top destinations

Janice Bykofsky, a travel consultant for Rainbow Travel Service in Oklahoma City, has been arranging Spring Break vacations for years, particularly for groups and families. As such, she focuses on these types of booking for Spring Break, which can bring in more lucrative commissions.

"We look at Spring Break a bit differently," Bykofsky says. "It's not just the college kids going to drink; it's the families, friends and groups—and more and more destinations are beginning to cater to that."

Bykofsky lists Mexico as one of the more inviting Spring Break destinations, especially Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. However, she says that while these cities for years have been deemed magnets for hedonistic college kids, over the years they have looked to cater to more upscale clientele. Stateside, she notes that South Padre Island in south Texas still attracts a big Spring Break following.

Cruising has also cornered a portion of the Spring Break market, especially the seven-night variety itineraries. Bykofsky booked eight such cruises this year for Spring Break, all families.

She also notes that while Spring Break usually falls sometime in March, clients begin formulating plans and making bookings as far back as August.

Trends for Students

For the most part, spring break business is steady at Funjet Vacations, says Tom Brussow, director of regional marketing. "We still have spring break space—hotel and air—available," he adds. "The prime travel dates and hotels may be limited because of inventory, but there are still deals to be had."

Meanwhile, at Blue Sky Tours, booking pace for Spring Break travel to Hawaii is similar to the pace last year, says Dennis Odom, vice president. "Prices are higher because this is high season," he notes, "but there is still good availability on all islands and in all categories, from budget to luxury."

"I still don't think Spring Break [travel] has been the same ever since [the disappearance of American Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005] happened," says Dan Schmier, owner of The Travel All-Stars Company and Joystar's top-producing home-based travel agent for 2006. "It really made parents think twice about letting their kids go away on their own."

Schmier says, however, those who are going away for the popular party vacations aren't exactly going anywhere new. Although Schmier says he doesn't book a lot of Spring Break vacations, he says when he hears other travel industry professionals talk about it, the same destinations usually come up—Florida, specifically Daytona and Fort Lauderdale; the Caribbean, including Aruba and Jamaica; and Mexico, specifically Cozumel and Cancun. Schmier, says, however that Los Cabos is also becoming popular.

As for any impact from the tightening earlier this year of passport requirements, Funjet's Brussow says the operator has not seen more bookings to domestic destinations, specifically Las Vegas and Daytona Beach, compared with bookings to international destinations.

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