“Sell what’s selling”, and right now, that’s last-minute getaways, says Sunwing’s Murphy

“Sell what’s selling”, and right now, that’s last-minute getaways, says Sunwing’s Murphy

TORONTO — Don’t shy away from promoting last-minute getaways because that’s where the demand is right now, says Sunwing’s VP, Retail Sales, Deana Murphy.

During an industry leaders’ travel trends panel discussion yesterday at TPI’s EMERGE online conference, Murphy shared that about 75% of Sunwing’s bookings last week were for Canadians travelling in the next 12 weeks. “And probably half of that was for travel in the next six weeks,” she added.

Over the years travel agents have had a love-hate relationship with shrinking booking windows, last-minute packages and their typically lower prices.

But for many Canadians, the flexibility of a last-minute vacation is key as the country comes out of the pandemic.

 “We need to sell what’s selling,” Murphy told TPI advisors. “Most of the people in-destination right now booked in the last few weeks. I encourage you to be comfortable promoting last-minute getaways. Many Canadians are ready to travel now.”

Capacity in Punta Cana and Cancun is at pre-pandemic levels right now, she added.

Booking last minute lessens the changes of changes and cancellations, she said.

Murphy also noted that booking last-minute means full payment is due immediately, and that means commission payments. “And who doesn’t need commission right now?”

Murphy had another message for agents: travel. Not just selling it, but doing it. “We have hundreds of travel agents who are travelling with us,” she says. “The industry needs to have travel agents feeling confident about selling travel, and getting back out there and promoting travel. Who wants to book travel with a travel agent who hasn’t travelled?”

MORE TRAVEL TRENDS

Along with plenty of last-minute bookings, Murphy said there’s also a big uptick in requests for long stays of two, three or even four weeks.

Work-cations are increasingly popular too. Fuelled by pent-up demand from the pandemic, Canadians are choosing to combine downtime with worktime. “A lot of people, all they need is WiFi to continue to work,” she said.

Beth Butzlaff, VP, Global Partner Relations for Virtuoso, says the bleisure travel trend is going strong for Virtuoso too, especially with clients looking to tack a few extra days at the end of a work trip for a quick family getaway.

Another trend is bigger suites, over-the-water bungalows and the like. Both Murphy and Butzlaff say they’re seeing an uptick for higher end categories. “More travellers want exclusive villas. They may not want to be with a lot of people right now. They want exclusive access,” said Butzlaff.

That will no doubt be music to the ears of travel advisors selling Sandals and Beaches Resorts, known for their extensive offering of upgraded accommodation options, including over-the-water bungalows.

Maureen Barnes-Smith, Director of Sales & Marketing, Unique Vacations Canada Inc., affiliate of the worldwide representative of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, took part in yesterday’s panel with some words of inspiration for TPI advisors.

“The best time to fish is during a storm,” said Barnes-Smith, as she outlined everything Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts did to maximize the pandemic downtime, and encouraged TPI advisors to connect with clients.

Some 350 TPI advisors and 45 supplier partners are taking part in TPI’s Emerge virtual conference, Oct. 20 – 21. TPI’s 2022 conference will be an in-person event.