With holiday booking via high street travel agents declining and online travel booking up by almost five times since the turn of the century, the pickage holiday has been born – the non-package, ‘choose and book yourself’ holiday is now popular with nearly two thirds of Brits.
According to research by travel price comparison website travelsupermarket.com, 38 per cent more people now book their holidays online than with a travel agent. Back in 1999, 39 per cent more people booked through a travel agent than online.1 This trend has led to the closure of many high street branches of travel giants such as Thomson and the newly-merged Thomas Cook and MyTravel.
Bob Atkinson, flights manager at travelsupermarket.com, said: “It may not be the end of the high street travel agent, but we have certainly entered a completely new era in holiday booking. It’s so easy to research and book your holiday online and you can read all manner of reviews at the same time. Many people prefer this to being swayed by the personal opinion of a travel agent.”
Holiday hunters aged between 25 and 34 are the most likely to book online, with 68 per cent stating they use the internet. Only 16 per cent of this age group would consider phoning or going into a travel agent. In 1999, that figure stood at nearly 50 per cent.1
This growth in online booking has created, what travelsupermarket.com terms, the pickage holiday – a holiday where you pick and book all the elements separately rather than going with a pre-arranged package. According to separate research,2 64 per cent of Britons prefer to use the web to research and book a holiday of their own making.
Bob Atkinson said: “The package holiday industry is now responding to the threat from pickage. Operators are moving towards making their product flexible, allowing customers to opt in or out of items such as transfers and meals.”
According to the survey, the top five reasons to pickage not package are:
1. Greater flexibility
2. You are more likely to get the holiday you want
3. It is more cost effective
4. Prefer to avoid very ‘touristy’ destinations
5. A greater choice of destinations.
Launched in 2003, travelsupermarket.com has grown from simply comparing flight prices to offering comparisons on tens of thousands of hotels, flights, package holidays and car hire, travel insurance, airport parking deals, activities and excursions. Site expansions this year include a bed and breakfast function and a city break search option.