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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Here’s to 2009 - a glimpse at 2009 from the experts at lastminute.com

Despite the challenging times lying ahead for the travel industry, online travel and leisure retailer lastminute.com is predicting 2009 to be a year for new destinations and new experiences. The new year will bring a host of opportunities and some great bargains to be had for savvy shoppers.

The online retailer is expecting to see interesting changes in consumers’ travel habits throughout 2009. Holidays are predicted to be the last luxury to go when things get tough and Britons will look at ways to cut corners and make their pounds go further.

Throughout 2008 lastminute.com has seen a strong 21% year on year increase in demand for all-inclusive holidays and in 2009, the retailer has increased its product to match customers’ expectations.

For short and mid-haul holidays, the online travel agent is expecting the non-euro zone destinations to continue their successful ascent. In 2008, Tunisia’s bookings increased by 71%, Istanbul’s hotels rocketed up by 53%, whilst Egypt and the Czech Republic were all amongst the top 10 best selling destinations. In 2009, whilst the UK is expected to do very well, non-euro zone places are all expected to be very popular with holidaymakers too.

Destinations where the pound is still strong, such as budget friendly Bulgaria and South Africa, will also benefit from the economic downturn.

The average length of a holiday will also be reduced to limit costs. lastminute.com is seeing a shift from fourteen day holidays to ten days. The seven night packages are the ones most likely to sell out. During 2008, the retailer has already witnessed customers reducing their holidays by an average of two days.

Hotels have also seen some changes in habits with a shift from five-star to three-star hotels in luxury destinations like Dubai. In 2009, big hotel groups such as the Hilton are opening their budget chains in Europe as four-star hotels are battling head to head with three star properties in prices. Consumers are increasingly price driven but do not want to cut down too much on the quality of a hotel. Sales of Top Secret Hotels at lastminute.com have increased a staggering 150% in 2008 and these are expected to perform even better next year as the number of destinations and properties increases.

UK hotels was the success story of 2008 with Liverpool bookings up 100% year on year, Scottish hotels up an average of 42% and Northern Ireland up 48% between 2008 and 2009.

lastminute.com Travel Sales Director Andy Washington commented: “ We are seeing some interesting changes in consumer habits as the economic downturn hits the UK. Our customers are determined to keep on holidaying but they will watch their pennies and make sure they do not break the bank when away. Destinations where the pound is still strong, all-inclusive holidays, the UK are all great cost saving options.”

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