The economic downturn has wrought travel trends such as the close-to-home ‘staycation’, and the not-going-anywhere ‘naycation.’ But there’s a positive move afoot in the travel industry, according to Tourism Industry Association of Canada Executive Vice President Chris Jones. He’s dubbed it the ‘yaycation.’ Recession travel pricing has dropped so low that Canadians are sitting up and yelling: “Yay, I can afford a vacation.”
“The offers out there are amazing,” agrees Alison Hermansen, Executive Vice President of Association and Club Services for the Canadian Automobile Association. “If you’re ever going to travel, this is the time to do it.”
Jones predicts it will continue to be a buyer’s market for travel for at least the rest of this year and through 2010 too. The fact is that without strong value incentives, many people aren’t going anywhere, so travel suppliers are stepping up their offers. “Consumers are looking for value and suppliers are providing it,” says Dorothy Dowling, Senior VP Marketing & Sales for hotel chain Best Western.
Canadians who are travelling close to home this summer are still enjoying great deals. Hotel prices, especially in major centres like Toronto and Vancouver, are lower than they’ve been for 5 years. And restaurants and attractions are jumping on the affordability bandwagon, through lower prices, teaming with hotels on packages and offering incentives ranging from free breakfast to ‘nights free’ offers.
Those prepared to leave the country are seeing even greater deals. Caribbean and Mexico packages are going for a song as charter operators and hoteliers would rather have low-paying guests than none at all. Cruise lines are discounting massively, even at the most luxurious end of the spectrum. A good example are Alaska cruises which were selling out a couple of years ago at premium rates. This year, many people have snagged bargain rates of less than $100 per day, and ships are still not sailing full.
An outside perspective on the great deals enjoyed by Canadian travellers, especially on sun vacation packages, came recently from Manny Fontenla-Novoa, Group CEO for Thomas Cook Travel plc, the world’s second largest travel company and the parent of Canadian brands including Sunquest Vacations, Fun Sun Vacations and Alba Tours. “We operate in 21 countries around the world, and Canada has the lowest margins on mainstream travel.”
Fontenla-Novoa says some operators in Canada are selling trips at a loss, and that can’t continue forever. “It’s just unbelievable. I can’t see the rationale and something’s got to give.” CAA’s Hermansen agrees, saying she sees another winter ahead of low margins – and low prices for consumers.
Yes, something’s got to give, and there’s no doubt it eventually will. In the meantime, many Canadians will be packing their bags and enjoying their bargain-priced ‘yaycays.’
Photo Captions: ranplett, PeskyMonkey