Research: 15% of Russians Favor Early Booking

Alina Khorosheva, 11.03.2014 11:02
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Travel Russian News magazine and Superjob.ru are ready to present the results of another joint research aimed at determining the attitude of Russians to a wide-spread tour operator service – early booking, and also at finding out which countries are often booked in advance. These results show that travel companies need to pay greater attention to informing the end consumer about early booking offers.

The research was conducted during the period from March 3 to March 4 of 2014 in 261 cities of Russia in all the federal districts and was initiated by Travel Russian News. Economically active Russian population over 18 years old was chosen as respondents. A total of 1,600 people were polled, hailing from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Chekhov, Tula, Krasnodar, and other cities of Russia.

The main question was framed as follows: “Have you made an early booking during the past 3 years?”

Numbers don’t lie

As it turns out, not too many Russians plan and pay for their holidays in advance – only 15% of respondents answered ‘Yes’; 12% were male and 17% - female.

About 3% of the respondents are going to use this service for the first time in 2014 (the number of male and female respondents is equal). Finally, 78% of respondents have never purchased tours in advance (male – 80%, female – 77%), and 4% of Russians chose ‘Not sure’.

The list of early booking leaders was hardly surprising – first Turkey with 27%, then – Egypt with 15%, and Spain with 14%.

The rest of the top 10 list looked as follows (as per the number of votes): Greece – 12%, Thailand – 10%, Cyprus – 9%, Bulgaria, Italy and Tunisia – 4% each, and finally – the tumultuous Ukraine, the UAE and the Czech Republic, each with 3% of the votes.

Austria, Germany, Crete, France, Bali, Mexico, India, Montenegro and Croatia, which were mentioned by the polled tourists, each got 2% of the responses.

The total percentage of respondents who booked tours to other countries was 23%. These countries are: Russia, Vietnam, China, the UK, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Maldives, Finland, Switzerland, Morocco, Israel, Jordan, the Netherlands, Estonia and Belarus.

Pros and cons

Those who usually book tours early say that the main advantage of such offers is how convenient they are and also the fact that it is possible to save quite a bit of money.

I’ve been using this service since forever, booking tours up to a year in advance, right at the very moment these offers become available. During the past 2 years I’ve booked tours to Cyprus, Turkey, India, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Spain, Israel,” says a deputy chief security officer from St. Petersburg.

An EMIAS implementation specialist had to make an early booking to Italy this year due to the rapid rise of euro.

The detractors of early booking were mainly tourists who plan their trips on their own, make use of last minute deals and also those Russians who visit countries not covered by the early booking service.

The long and short of it

Tour operators already report a successful launch of early booking for a number of destinations. Experts tie it to the rise of euro and to greater affordability of such offers.

For instance,  General Director of Pegas Touristik Anna Podgornaya  told TRN magazine that early booking offers for Turkey were available at the company as early as autumn of 2013. Discounts at some hotels reach 30%, and bookings themselves extend up till the November holidays. The sales volume for this service grew 20-25% as compared to the same period of the last year.

Early booking sales have been gaining more and more traction during the past years. I think that they will become even more popular in the coming years, since they provide an opportunity to choose exactly the hotel you want at an affordable price, as opposed to a last minute emergency deal,” said the General Director of Pegas Touristik.

Marketing Director of Anex Tour Natalia Akimtsova says that as recently as three years ago tourists gave preference to last-minute tours, and there were no more than 20% of those who wanted to book summer holidays in February-May. Today the situation is diametrically different. According to Anex Tour’s forecasts, early booking tours will make up 60% of the total sales volume by the beginning of May.

This figure is nearing the European result of 80%. Russian tourists have realized the benefits of the service and now they save money on cheap deals, getting in return guaranteed accommodation in popular hotels during the high season,” explained Natalia Akimtsova.

By the way, the operator has quite attractive early booking offers for a number of destinations. For instance, the company offers some of the biggest discounts for Heraklion hotels on the market – depending on the booking date, they can reach 40%.

General Director of TEZ Tour Vladimir Kaganer said the following at the ‘TEZ FESTIVAL-2014’ that was recently held in Novosibirsk: “We can sense a tendency towards later early bookings, and we make plans for the summer season accordingly. Sales are roughly the same as last year, and if they continue like that, we will consider the season a success. We adhere to the wait-and-see policy – we monitor the market, all the while being able to both increase and decrease sales volumes. This way we can promptly respond to market changes, but we will not fly empty planes – if it’s unprofitable, we’ll get rid of it.”

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