Last-minute holiday makers on the rise
Online agents seeing more late bookings from Singapore travellers
SCRAMBLING to book a short holiday at the last minute? Well, you wouldn't be the only one.
According to figures from the Zuji Online Travel Report 2007, about a quarter of Singapore-based travellers who book their flights and hotels online through Zuji do so during the same week of travel.
And they make their bookings just three to four days before the trip.
The report is based primarily on the total transactions on the Zuji website, along with booking data based on Travelocity.com (North America) and lastminute.com (UK) for Asia.
Mr Philip Ho, general manager of Zuji Singapore, said this is higher than the number of late bookings from other regional markets such as Australia and Hong Kong.
Why so last minute?
According to Ms Melody Goh of ASA Holidays, the increase in last-minute travel bookings is due to a change in mindset.
She said: "Singaporeans don't just travel once a year. Most travel half-yearly, and some even every quarter."
Hence, the time needed to plan for a shorter, more casual trip will definitely shorten."
Some Singaporeans also book at the last minute for business reasons.
Mr Ho said business travellers often have to make their travel decisions on a more urgent basis. And such travellers increasingly use online travel booking systems like Zuji for the convenience and 24/7 availability.
But the figures for last-minute travel are lower at ASA.
Ms Goh said: "Less than 10 per cent of our travellers will book at such short notice.
"Even the working folks need to plan their leave period in advance."
And ASA has quite a market share of very-early planners."
Although there are last-minute bookings, we definitely have large-group tours that are booked from last year for their holiday late this year," she said.
"Such bookings are not country-specific. They depend mostly on the school holiday schedule, as well as seasonal festivals such as the Japanese cherry blossom period."
The savvy traveller will know that booking ahead for holidays in such periods is a must.
Mr Charles Tan of Global Travel said the most common period of holiday bookings by leisure travellers are two to three weeks in advance for regional travel, and three to four weeks ahead for Europe and the Americas.
And indeed, the trend, judging from the Zuji survey report, is that about a quarter of Singaporean travellers give themselves lots of lead time before their holidays. They book their flights a month or more ahead of travel.
Attractive "early-bird" discounts have also helped encourage early travel planning.
Ms Goh said that bookings do indeed coincide with the Natas and in-house travel fairs when there are also gifts from airlines and special promotions.
Moreover, travellers usually get early-bird discounts when they book budget airline tickets well in advance.
So, where do travellers who book online usually go?
According to the Zuji report, the most popular destination for Singaporeans is Hong Kong.
Bangkok is another favourite.
Mr Ho explained that online booking lead times are destination-dependent - the nearer the destination, shorter the lead time.
Ms Christine Ng, a marketing manager at Focal Travel, also attributes this to the free-and-easy nature of these destinations.
She said: "Hong Kong and Bangkok are short-haul destinations.
"These places can be explored sufficiently in about three days and so are very attractive places for those who want to enjoy all the tourist attractions in one 'perfect' holiday."
She cited Hong Kong's Disneyland as the main family-friendly attraction that has drawn more visitors.
As for Bangkok, definite attractions include the cheap air fares and shopping.
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