Billings, MT – Travel companies must turn on a dime faster than ever these days. A leading multisport tour operator, Austin Adventures, reports that summer bookings once averaging 40 to 60 days in advance of departure are now coming in under 30 days or fewer this season.
“Because people are planning summer vacations at the 11th hour, it takes all of our skill and connections to be able to pull it off,” reports Dan Austin, President and Founder. “’Where can I go next week?’ is becoming the new norm.”
Last summer, Austin reported that just six percent of all bookings took place within 30 days of departure. This year that segment of business is predicted to double to over 12 percent.
Austin thinks that this past hard winter and cool and wet spring affected how folks planned – or didn’t – for their summer vacations. Many didn’t get away in the first half of the year but he sees pent-up demand now for the annual summer escape.
“The air deals for summer are also finally here and families have sorted out their children’s complicated schedules,” he adds.
“In accommodating the demand, it doesn’t hurt to have good connections either,” added Austin. His company became part of the Xanterra Parks & Resorts® family last year, a fact which also aids in accommodating last minute space requests, as Xanterra is the largest concessionaire in America’s National Parks.
“This partnership brings access to hard-to-get hotel rooms, off-the-tourist-track itineraries and access to local specialists whose expertise adds a unique perspective to our national park travel experiences,” Austin notes.
“We seem to thrive when faced with a good challenge,” states Austin. “For example, just last week we had a guest call up on the Monday she returned home from our Montana Adventure and asked us to create a special “custom” Western experience for her children and their grandparents – next week! She wanted the grandparents to experience what the family just did. Needless to say getting rooms in Yellowstone or Jackson can be a bit tough, but we did it and the grandparents and grandkids are currently exploring Grand Teton National Park after spending the last few days in Yellowstone.”
Austin reports that this client is also booking a custom trip in Yellowstone in September for her office staff. “We are thrilled because with this much notice, September is easy!”
Word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends are still the company’s best advertising. Austin points out that 28 percent of all Austin Adventures travelers are direct referrals from past guests.
Taking the risk out of booking is another factor that helps encourage last minute reservations. Austin Adventures, throughout its history, has offered a guarantee of satisfaction which is among the industry’s best. It simply states: “If we fail to meet your expectations and are unable to resolve a matter to your satisfaction during your trip, we’ll refund up to the full amount you paid to Austin Adventures.”