If you thought the chaos at airports over the July school holidays was enough to send you mad, experts say a whole lot more pain is coming – and not just when it comes to flying.
With Christmas holidays creeping up and the busiest holiday period just around the corner, Aussies hoping for a breezy summer escape are being warned to book now – or face being left out in the cold.
Accommodation platform Stayz revealed one-in-five Aussies have already booked their end of year holiday, with newly released data predicting a possible sold out summer in top holiday home destinations over the Christmas break.
“Booking for year-end Christmas holidays in July is now the norm” says Simone Scoppa, travel expert at Stayz.
“Prior to the pandemic, we knew that travelers mostly booked Christmas holidays in the month of September. But, the last two years have seen this peak period move to July as travelers get in early to secure their holiday home.”
According to the research, families heading into the silly season are increasingly searching for whole holiday homes with pools, in a waterfront or beachside location, and for the accommodation offering to be pet friendly.
Ms Scoppa said heading into July and August, the most popular destinations that have seen a spike in summer bookings include the Fraser Coast in QLD, the South West region of WA, the Barossa wine region in South Australia and smaller coastal towns along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
Airbnb, who recently launched the ‘Categories’ section for unique-style homes, predict this summer will have an increased interest from the international market now that border restrictions are over.
“While traditional holiday destinations continue to be popular, last year we saw guests seeking stays in those lesser-known locations that might be slightly further afield,” Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, told news.com.au.
“This summer, Aussies won’t be the only ones snapping up fun and unique homes on Airbnb, with international travelers also looking to experience Down Under – from our world-famous coastal cities and towns, to breathtaking rural landscapes.”
Ms Wheeldon tips locations like Rye, Apollo Bay and Bright to be popular once again this summer, along with South West Rocks and Nelson Bay in NSW.
With airports and airlines across the country – but particularly along the east coast – battling staff shortages, flight cancellations and delays coupled with the post-Covid travel boom, experts warn travelers could be in for long wait times over the summer holidays for both domestic and international travel.
On Monday alone, 21 flights were canceled in Sydney across the Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Rex networks. Virgin dumped 10 flights, Qantas nixed eight, with two pulled from Jetstar and one from Rex.
Melbourne Airport faced similar struggles, with 20 flights scrapped as of 8.30am.
This included seven flights from Qantas, five from Emirates and Virgin Australia, two from American Airlines and one from British Airways.
The flights canceled at both airports were between 6.30am and 7pm on Monday.
With airlines struggling to keep up with demand amid staff shortages, Qantas announced they would be reducing flights in July and August.
Domestic and International CEO Andrew David apologized to customers as a result of the ongoing chaos being faced at airports across the country.
“We are the national carrier, people have high expectations of us, we have high expectations of ourselves and clearly over the last few months we have not been delivering what we did pre-Covid,” he said.
“We have reduced some of our flying this month and we’re planning to do the same next month, recognizing the operation pressures we have.”
It is understood the airline will be rostering on extra staff for the Christmas period, and any large widebody aircraft will be deployed to assist with domestic flights if need be.
In 2022 alone, Aussies have faced a string of rising cost of living pressures and accommodation reservations have been no exemption.
It hasn’t exactly been cheap to holiday domestically for many years, but staggering figures show that it has gone from bad to worse in the past 13 months.
Data from trivago released in June – recorded hotel price shifts from more than 400 booking sites for over 2 million hotels around the world in its Hotel Price Index. The survey uncovered an astronomical increase in the price of an Aussie getaway.
It shows the average price of a hotel in Sydney has arisen almost 25 per cent over the past year while hotel rooms in Melbourne have seen a 24 per cent spike in the same period.
This means the average cost of a hotel room in Sydney is now above $240 per night, up from $206 a night a year ago. For Melbourne, the average cost is now $239, up from $200 in August last year.
The CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia, Michael Johnson said the hike in prices came down to staff shortages still plaguing the industry, with many hotels forced to operate at 70 to 80 per cent capacity which was impacting revenue.
“I know hotels that are still looking for 30 to 40 staff, instead of running two restaurants they are only running one,” he said.
“They’re not taking conference bookings, because they just don’t have the staff to manage those bookings.”
But despite the angst and frustration following travelers to airports both domestically and internationally, Australians have not been deterred from traveling and there’s no sign of it waning off in the future, according to Finder’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker.
More than one-in-two (57 per cent) of Aussies are planning a getaway in the next 12 months, including 32 per cent who plan to travel within Australia, 12 per cent who plan to travel internationally, and 13 per cent who plan to travel both domestically and overseas.
This is up from 49 per cent last December.
According to Finder’s Covid Comfort Indicator, Aussies rank their level of comfort with overseas travel at 4.3 out of 10, up from 2.7 in January. They feel slightly more at ease with domestic travel, ranking it 6.1 out of 10.
“The travel industry is finally seeing some normalcy for the first time in over two years. People aren’t as concerned about prices, they just want to travel again,” said Angus Kidman, travel expert at Finder.
“The key to making the most of any travel sale is to be flexible with dates and open-minded about destinations. Don’t forget to book your travel insurance as soon as you’ve locked in your trip.”
Ms Scoppa agreed, saying with many Australians missing out on travel plans due to Covid-19 interrupting plans in 2021 – the advice was to be organized and book now.
“The advice is simple, we recommend that you book now for your Christmas holidays, rather than leaving it to the last minute, where there may be limited choice,” Ms Scoppa said.
“The Mackay and Central Coast NSW regions are typically favorite summer destinations, that in years past have been close to a sell out, so it is good news for travelers looking ahead to book for Christmas that availability is still looking good for these destinations.”