Heading into the halfway point of summer, many Cobb residents are doing their part to help solidify a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey that said the majority of Georgia residents — 70 percent — plan to take a vacation of at least four days this summer.
The boost in travel is working out well for some Cobb travel agencies, which are reporting that bookings are up. The increase signals a modest return to normalcy on the vacation front despite a continuing sluggish economy.
“We have seen an increase in bookings of 15 percent over last year,” said Michelle Holmes, general manager for Travel and Transport Vacations (formerly Sprayberry Travel) in Marietta. “The increases are in both individual and family travel in the U.S. and abroad.”
While the AAA survey noted a majority — 77 percent — of Georgia residents plan to travel within the United States, 14 percent said they plan to take both domestic and international summer vacations, a statistic that is trending in Cobb County.
“We’ve seen especially strong interest in Europe, Jamaica and Mexico due to the strong promotional offers that are available,” Holmes said. “There also has been an increase in European bookings and river cruises.”
While travelers that book vacations with The Art of Cruising typically make their plans before summer, that hasn’t stopped the Douglasville agency from taking advantage of the summer surge.
“The summer months are typically dead for me because many of my clients have already booked their trips,” said Arthur Fessenden, president of The Art of Cruising. “But I’m up 15 percent this summer. People are telling me that, ‘Sure, times are tough, but I need those memories with my kids.’ You can’t get that time back.”
But in the end, when it comes to travel, value still is key. “People are always going to look for the best deals and values, despite what’s happening with the economy,” Fessenden said.
It’s the same at Travel and Transport Vacations. “Our customers want the best vacation value for their budget,” Holmes said. “We’re seeing flexibility in dates, destinations and properties for our clients to receive better value. This could be anything from discounts, added amenities, room upgrades, transfers, food/beverage or spa credits or other offerings.”
Michael J. Pallerino has reported on business news for magazines and newspapers in the Atlanta area for more than 20 years.
TRAVEL TIPS YOU CAN USE
* GET THAT PASSPORT NOW: Apply for your passport or visas now. Because the process typically takes around month, you want to avoid rush fees. Whether you travel abroad a lot or not, apply for the 10-year passport.
* PASSPORT 3.0: Once you get your passport, scan a copy onto your smartphone or iPad so that you don’t have to carry around the original. If you don’t want to lug an electronic device, make a copy of the passport and take it with you.
* SET YOUR BUDGET: It’s important to set a budget you’re comfortable with and share this budget with your travel adviser.
* BE FLEXIBLE: Consider flexibility of your travel dates. Based on availability and date-specific offerings, alternate dates may provide a better vacation value for your dollar.
* AIM FOR COMFORT: Remember, it’s a vacation. Selecting the right accommodations is critical. At a minimum, your accommodations should be similar to what you’re used to at home.
* WORK FROM YOUR BUCKET LIST: Select a couple of destinations you’ve always wanted to explore. An alternate spot may offer the best value for your budget.
* BE REALISTIC: If your trip is set with too many or too few activities, you may be in for a let down. Consider an active or semi-active vacation and make sure everyone knows the plan.
* DON’T BE OVERLY SOCIAL: Be careful about using social media to post your every vacation move. Updates and tagged posts let too many people know where you are — and where you aren’t.
— Source: The Art of Cruising and Travel and Transport Vacations