Crowds of Czech people are getting ready for the seaside, with the first destinations already sold out. Travel agencies report record sales and bookings for summer vacations this year. Some hotels and dates are already fully booked, so there may not be any last-minute deals available.
The increasing prices of food, energy, and other essential expenses have affected the budgets of many Czech households since last year. This uncertainty made travel experts wonder how Czech people would behave this year and whether they would go to the seaside due to higher financial demands. However, travel agencies now have a clear picture. Just a month before the primary season begins, they report record sales. The overwhelming interest of Czech people in seaside vacations might even prevent those waiting for last-minute offers from finding availability.
Demand for vacation packages is rising, and some travel agencies have already sold out for this year in specific destinations and dates. For example, České kormidlo, Fischer, and Exim Tours have sold about two-thirds of their packages. The availability varies depending on the dates and destinations. Some hotels in popular locations like Turkey or Greek islands have only a few remaining spots, while others are entirely sold out.
A specific demand within the sold capacities is for 2+2 rooms, meaning double rooms with two extra beds. These rooms are more advantageous for families because a child on an extra bed is either completely free or pays only the airfare price. On the other hand, if a family of four chooses two double rooms, the hotels charge the total price for the child on a regular bed, making the vacation significantly more expensive.
The current high demand for summer vacations may result in a repeat of last season’s conclusion when clients who usually wait for last-minute deals at favorable prices end up without any options. Flexible vacationers without specific departure and return dates or destinations can still find last-minute possibilities. However, families with children, larger groups, or clients with fixed schedules must choose from the available hotels with the last remaining spots.
The high demand for summer vacations goes against the recent trend of discounted last-minute trips. Travel prices are gradually increasing, and travel agencies often have no reason to reduce costs or sell out rooms at the last minute due to the significant interest in summer vacations. The spokesperson for Invia travel agency, Jiřina Ekrt Jirušková, explains that the prices of vacation packages are rising, and the rooms are not being sold at the last minute as frequently.
The capacities of travel packages set by individual travel agencies play a significant role. Each agency must purchase accommodation and transportation before the season begins. They take on significant risks as these purchases amount to hundreds of millions of Czech koruna annually. Afterward, it is the travel agency’s responsibility to find buyers for the purchased capacities. This is where the well-known last-minute offers come into play, which travel agencies offer at the end of the season. It is their last chance to partially compensate for the costs incurred in acquiring accommodation and transportation.
Travel agencies often have to estimate customer demand and make purchases accordingly, sometimes limiting the pre-contracted accommodations and transportation, as seen during the pandemic. Due to the pandemic, nearly 30% of travel agencies ceased operations or went out of business, reducing their market volume to approximately 10-15%. Clients of these agencies had to switch to other companies. This factor slightly increased the demand for vacations offered by active travel agencies.
Despite the slight increase in capacities compared to last year, the overall capacity in the Czech market is still lower than in the pre-COVID year of 2019. According to Jan Papež, Vice Chairman of the Association of Travel Agencies, the number of Czech people traveling abroad with travel agencies this year will be slight.