As many tour operators and attractions (in the Northern hemisphere at least) are ramping up for peak season in the summer, spring holidays such as Easter have brought a welcome boost to shoulder season bookings for many, although the scale of growth differs by region.
Arival touched base with a handful of leaders in the tours, activities and attractions sector to get a sense of how the holidays are impacting bookings for operators and suppliers around the globe.
Here is how bookings have shaped up around Europe, the U.S., Latin America and Australia over the Easter holiday weekend.
Many Operators See Easter Bookings Boost, Particularly for Europe, Family
For many, the holiday weekend brought a significant boost to bookings. “Sales are an entirely different galaxy from what we’ve experienced in the past” shares Sean Finelli, co-owner of The Tour Guy, and CEO Varun Khona of city experience-focused online travel agency Headout called it “the biggest weekend in Headout’s history.”
However, the scale of the boost differs by region. For Amigo Tours, the weekend has brought just a 10% increase in bookings year-over-year from 2022 in the U.S. and Latin America, while some destinations in Europe are seeing a 200% increase, according to CEO Jose Arozarena. The regional discrepancy didn’t slow them down, however: on Easter weekend they broke their record for the most passengers booked in one day (announced on LinkedIn).
Amigo Tours is not the only one to observe Europe benefiting from the holiday boost. “U.S. folks are definitely back in Europe, and Europeans keep on traveling nonstop,” shares Agata Ortuno, Director of Supply Strategy at Headout.
For operators on U.K.-based booking system platform Ventrata, “90% of our customers have seen increased revenue with most seeing double digit revenue growth for the period,” shares Ventrata’s Mike Jones.
With Easter being a family-oriented holiday for many, it’s not surprising that family bookings accounted for a greater proportion of bookings. “Group composition is far closer to summer travel trends,” shares Finelli. “Twice as many children & youth as the week before and after Easter week.” Amigo Tours similarly observes more families traveling, with the average people per booking up to 4.2 from the year-round average of 2.3.
Challenging Economic Conditions Impacting Some U.S.-based Operators
Unfortunately, not everyone is benefitting from the travel bump. In Florida where many operators are still recovering from last year’s challenging weather conditions — most notably Hurricane Ian — “Easter bookings are flat, and slightly down from 2022,” shares TripShock Co-Founder and CEO Greg Fisher.
Although weather is certainly a factor, Fisher attributes the drop in bookings to economic conditions which are particularly impacting younger travelers. “It is my belief that record consumer credit card debt, smaller tax refunds, and higher interest rates have made it more challenging for folks to travel,” he explains.
“We have noticed a year-over-year 30% decrease with travelers 25-34 and 17% increase with travelers 55+… 25-34 year olds are likely the most vulnerable to changes in the economy which might explain these numbers,” Fisher observes.
Australian Travelers Get Outside to Enjoy Last Warm Weekend Before Winter
Although Easter is typically associated with spring for those of us in the northern hemisphere, for our southern hemisphere neighbors it is often the last chance to enjoy warmer weather.
According to Australia and New Zealand-based experiences platform Big Red Group, overall Easter weekend bookings are down 20%, but “outdoor adventures, particularly those that allow families to spend quality time in nature, have seen a significant spike,” shares Jemma Fastnedge from Big Red Group.
In New South Wales (NSW), one of the most popular regions for experience travel, Big Red Group’s bookings for aquariums and zoos increased by 52%, high ropes increased by 94% surfing by 171%, and canyoning by a whopping 362%.
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Header image: Pexels / Yulianto Poitier