Why Book Early?
After reading my blog from last week I bet you think booking last minute (90 days prior to travel or less) is the best way to go, don’t you? This week I want to explain why early booking can offer a fantastic opportunity/price point as well, especially for those properties/products that don’t ever experience distressed inventory, or for those special event trips.
Believe it or not there are properties and products who have such a loyal following they are fully booked year around. They may have decreased rates for low season travel, but they don’t experience distressed inventory and seldom offer last minute discounts.
Let’s begin with “fun in the sun” vacations. If you intend to spend your vacation at a super popular resort you simply have to book early. The rooms in the best locations fill up first so reserve yours at least 9 months in advance. One of my favorite resorts has 49 rooms and only 4 are corner swim out suites. Those 4 suites are sold out many months in advance and the entire resort is usually sold out five months in advance. If you follow me on Facebook you saw me in one of those corner swim out suites in Jamaica last month-it was heaven on earth.
Even if you aren’t trying to get into one of the highest demand properties out there, you’ll still want to book early because it can save you big bucks. Travel companies offer their very best pricing about 6-9 months in advance. Early bookings allow them to predict their upcoming cash flow. They don’t like to wait until the last minute to fill their resort so they make it advantageous to you to book early with reduced rates.
In November of this year you’ll begin to see great offers for summer 2019 beach travel. With discounted prices, low deposits and many months to pay off the trip, early booking is the way to go.
River cruises rarely have distressed inventory. They are a hugely popular product that sells out months in advance. They sell out early because they offer early booking discounts that can literally save you thousands of dollars. As I mentioned last week, my favorite river cruise company now has free air packages on 2019 sailings. I just opened a letter from Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking, letting me know he was offering 2020 cruises at 2019 pricing (with the usual 2 for 1 cruisefare and free or discounted air) for anyone ready to book 2020 Viking Cruises. Do your best to book your river cruise as early as possible; you’ll enjoy the best availability and the most cost-effective price.
When it comes to tours the most popular tours during peak season sell out first. That holds especially true if you want to tour a specific part of the world during a specific time frame (such as tulip time in Holland). Other time sensitive tours are the fall foliage tours and Christmas Markets. All three of these are generally sold out about a year in advance. Our personally escorted Christmas Market river cruise sold out in August 2017 (we are hosting 82 guests) and our sail date isn’t until Dec 2018. That’s right; it sold out 18 months in advance.
If you are celebrating a special event like a destination wedding you absolutely have to book no less than one year in advance to get the date, location and resort you prefer. And a word to the wise-If your guests wait until the last minute to book they are likely to find the resort sold out, and they’ll miss your big event. It happened to guests of a wedding party we booked just this year.
I personally book all of my trips very early. Booking early secures a great price point, it confirms the resort/tour/cabin you prefer, and gives you months to pay it off. I highly recommend it.