Summer 2019 trends

Price cuts drive up German demand but no last-minute boom

German bookings for Fuerteventura have slumped this year.
German bookings for Fuerteventura have slumped this year.

German consumers are starting to book their summer holidays thanks to big discounts after waiting much longer than usual this year but there is no sign yet of a last-minute bookings surge, according to tour operators.

Sales prospects are starting to look better in June after several months of weak demand as hoteliers in Mediterranean destinations flood the market with special offers to generate bookings. Savings of up to 50% are apparently on offer for customers who are flexible with departure airports and travel dates. Spanish hoteliers in particular are being flexible with prices in respond to disappointing sales as consumers prefer destinations such as Turkey and Egypt this summer.

“Spanish hoteliers have reacted and are currently offering additional discounts of up to 50% on the hotel price, which we are passing on to our customers,” confirmed Patrick Hogrefe, TUI Germany’s head of product management Sun & Beach. This appears to be paying off with rising bookings for Spanish destinations. “In the last few weeks we have generally seen a significant rise in bookings in Germany, including for last-minute (offers),” Hogrefe added.

Sabine Prähauser, head of FTI’s late holidays brand Fünf vor Flug, sees a similar trend. “After unusually weak booking volumes in the first few months of the year we can see that bookings, especially in the last-minute segment, have risen strongly in recent weeks,” she commented. FTI still has capacity available for classic Mediterranean destinations such as Majorca, Greece or Italy, along with special offers for well-booked destinations such as Turkey and Egypt.

Schauinsland-Reisen pointed out that while there is plenty of free hotel capacity the situation is different for flights. “In general, all destinations have plenty of (free) capacity regarding hotels. That’s really why there are hotel offers in all destinations,” said tourism chief Andreas Rüttgers. “But it looks different with flights. From region to region there is significant capacity but also shortages. So, the last-minute offers depend more on the departure airports,” he explained.

The Duisburg-based tour operator is also adjusting prices in line to lower demand but Rüttgers added: “We’re actually satisfied with the customer numbers. We were at an extremely high level in recent years and at the moment we are even slightly above this.”

The Schauinsland tourism chief believes that the poor bookings for Spain are due to missing flights. In response, the company is trying to increase flight capacity for Fuerteventura in particular.

Thomas Cook also expects last-minute business to improve. The tour operator has late booking offers for a range of short-haul destinations, including the Canaries, Bulgaria and Greece.