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NEWS 22.02.18


The Maldives remains the biggest-selling destination for the 15th consecutive year, according to Kuoni’s report, with the destination showing “no signs of slowing down”


Web of confusion drives clients back to agents


More consumers are turning to travel agents for help as the trend for milestone trips to long-haul destinations grows, Kuoni reveals in its annual Trends report


INFORMATION OVERLOAD is driving consumers back to travel agents, according to new research carried out by Kuoni. An independent survey conducted for the operator’s annual Trends report found that 79% of holidaymakers were overwhelmed by online searches, with 59% saying they wanted experienced help when booking. A majority – 52% – said they were unsure which online sites, reviews and data to trust when booking. The Censuswide research, which surveyed 2,000 consumers, found that most shoppers spent more than an hour carrying out online research before seeking a professional’s opinion. Derek Jones, chief executive, Der


Touristik UK, said: “Increasingly, people end up with so much confl icting information when they start searching that it ends up being more of a headache than a holiday.” Jones added there was a “growing thirst for genuine expertise”.


14 22.02.2018 Kuoni has opened 49 shops and


implants since 2013, including 22 in the high street, 10 in shopping centres and 17 in John Lewis stores, with another concession opening in Westfi eld London’s store next month. The company saw appointments in them jump 38% in 2017, with the average length of consultation lasting around two hours. Perhaps surprisingly, 59% of those who enter its shops do not have a destination in mind and are happy to be guided. Technology is still vitally


important, however, and the report said internet browsing using a mobile device became more popular than using a desktop computer in 2017. Another shift is towards web chats, which Kuoni introduced four years ago. “Increasingly, online chats go on to more detailed conversations about the trip face-to-face at an appointment or on the phone,” the report added. Elsewhere, the survey analysed


destinations, with the Maldives retaining its crown as Kuoni’s biggest seller for the 15th consecutive year as the operator added that it showed “no signs of slowing down”. Arrivals to the islands grew


nearly 19% year-on-year in November, with Kuoni estimating that “at least” 27 resorts have opened in the Maldives since 2013, broadening its appeal to markets other than couples. Another 23 resorts are due to open by 2019. Kuoni will feature the new Bathala resort from May, a favourite of divers. Second place Mauritius is also set for a good year, with the island marking 50 years since independence and with British Airways increasing frequencies. Kuoni describes Thailand as “one of the star performers for 2018”, overtaking Sri Lanka in third place. It says this was mainly due to new Qatar Airways fl ights to Chiang Mai, Krabi and Pattaya. Further down the scale, South


Africa is edging towards the top 10, having risen from 15th to 12th place. Kuoni says the favourable exchange rate means the country will make the top 10 this year. It has been beaten to it by Mexico, which climbs from 14th to 10th place driven by Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The company also tips Costa Rica to enter the top 25. The country is now the operator’s biggest-selling Latin American destination following the launch of direct BA fl ights in 2016. More beach resorts have been added, plus wildlife-spotting locations. Only one European country, Italy,


makes the top 10, rising one place to sixth. Kuoni has added the islands of Ischia, Vulcano and Lipari for 2018. Meanwhile, the report also noted


that around half of Kuoni’s bookings are now for special occasion trips. Honeymoons still top the list, followed by landmark birthdays, weddings and vow renewals, bucket list trips and family gatherings, with overseas engagements becoming a trend. The Maldives tops the list of special trips destinations, with an average spend of £6,000 per couple. Kuoni is also benefi ting from older


clients who have released equity from their homes or who have cashed in some of their pensions following changes to regulations. “Older, wealthier consumers who are fi t and healthy are investing in seeing the world as they continue to live life to the full,” the operator added.


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