It's colder than usual this winter. Are bookings up because of it?

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Photo Credit: Nicoleta Ionescu/Shutterstock

With much of the country experiencing a spate of colder-than-average temperatures, some agencies and tour operators report a spike in interest in warm-weather escapes.

But is this year's spike larger than the typical bookings increase in winter?

Travel Impressions president Scott Wiseman says the company's reservations team has been "extremely busy" during the last couple of weeks, and that bookings from customers in the frigid Northeast have spiked.

"This can be attributed to relentlessly brutal temperatures, but it's difficult to say precisely by what degree since there are so many other factors to account for," he said.

The economy is good, consumer confidence is high, and the Caribbean and Hawaii have stepped up their marketing efforts, Wiseman said.

"Year over year, we did see a lot of growth for December 2017," he said. "But the same can be said for Q4 in general, so I think it's about more than just the weather."

Historically, cold weather and heavy snow has driven demand for travel to warm destinations. But it's too early to tell if this year is extraordinary, said David Hu, president of Classic Vacations. "Anecdotally we're hearing more interest from clients and call volumes are steady, but given how early it is in the year and the way the holidays/school calendars are falling, the sample size is too hard to determine a trend," Hu said. "A better read will be sometime by mid-January."

Delta Vacations president Jennie Ho similarly said, "We wouldn't attribute this specific volume of bookings to the recent cold weather that much of the U.S. is experiencing right now."

Rey Alton, senior travel adviser at Travel Leaders in Houston, said close-in bookings have increased, and that the extreme cold weather may be a factor. Cold typically brings an influx of calls, Alton said, but he suspected recent weather was further driving that this winter.

"People are definitely looking to plan to go somewhere warmer more than usual," he said.

Similarly, Valerie Wilson Travel in New York has had an increase in last-minute calls since mid-December, said Ginny Caragol, director of leisure.

"In addition, customers who were in the planning stages made up their minds quicker as space was very tight, especially in the luxury market," she said.

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