By Quentin Fottrell
Unseasonably pleasant weather seems to be diminishing the desire by many to book a beach getaway. As a result, travel experts expect some especially good deals this month.
This winter has been dramatically warmer than last year. December was one of the warmest on record, while January was also particularly mild, according to weather tracking firm Planalytics. As SmartMoney.com reported, this has led to discounts in winter wear, but it has impacted the travel industry, too. “Warmer winter months affects pricing, especially in the northeast where you have a bulk of the non-stop flights to sunny destinations,” says Gregg Mauss, who runs Expeditions-Redefined, a New York-based luxury travel firm. “When the weather is harsher, people get held up in their apartments – and that’s when they start booking vacations on their computers.”
While many retirees may have already flown south for the winter, experts say weekend winter getaway travelers are quietly biding their time. As a result, companies with last-minute deals are seeing rates going down, Mauss says. Only 30% of people this year have specific destination in mind when planning a vacation, down from 53% last year, according to a recent survey of over 2,300 travelers by Travel-Ticker.com. That site is offering 40% off flight/hotel package deals to Puerto Rico. Travelocity.com is offering 50% off package deals to Bermuda and 50% off hotels in Aruba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. However, those deals could go away quickly if the weather turns. ““Nobody knows what next week is going to bring,” Perkins says.
For now, however, weather hasn’t been cooperating for winter vacation hotspots – and not just for beach holidays. “Some of the ski areas are hurting and are offering deals,” says Ed Perkins, a contributing editor for travel advice site SmarterTravel.com. Utah, Colorado and Lake Tahoe didn’t start receiving snowfalls until last month, according to OntheSnow.com and their total snow pack is less than it would normally be at this time. Dan Sherman, spokesman at travel site Ski.com, says the site has 50% off lodging in Colorado,and free-night offers during Presidents Day weekend, spring break and Easter, “typically times when rates are at their highest and deals are rare at best.”