Michelle Baran
Michelle Baran

*logoNumerous operators and wholesalers have reported an uptick in business over the past few months, and they're hoping it means a sign of better times to come.

"This has been our best August in five years, said Marc Kazlauskas, president of Insight Vacations, in a recent statement. "We are feeling very confident that 2010 will be a very strong year for us."

In late August, meanwhile, New York-based wholesaler Travel Bound said that bookings for the three months prior were 30% higher than for the same period in 2008.

Any bit of good news is welcome news, especially just as economists have cited very early signs of a recovery from the recession.

But, in fairness, the uptick wasn't just spurred by a good, old-fashioned desire to spend and to travel.

Operators cited aggressive promotions and discounts as having definitively contributed to the increase in bookings.

"One of the initial drivers of the late business was our last minute deals (10% off 10 tours every two weeks), which we had never done before," Paul Wiseman, president of Trafalgar Tours, wrote in an email. But, he added optimistically, "sales have now gone beyond 'deal only' and much more into normal bookings."

Insight said that it, too, was very aggressive in 2009, launching several free companion air offers as well as a "Hot Deals" campaign, a list of 20 departures that were available at a 10% discount.

"The success of this campaign can be attributed to the change in booking patterns ... as well as pent-up consumer demand. People still want and are able to travel," Kazlauskas said.

Since the start of the year, Bob Whitley, president of the U.S. Tour Operators Association, has been talking about a pent-up demand for travel that would result in such a rebound.

Time will tell, of course. But perhaps he wasn't just being overly optimistic. Perhaps the rebound is real.

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