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
"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
"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.