With the heat of summer behind us and the beauty of a fall pallet in front, it’s hard to set our minds on planning winter getaways. But the early bird does get the worm, so don’t leave the ideal winter getaways to chance. Whether you’re leaning towards the Christmas Markets of Europe or hitting the beach in St. Barths, advance booking is still required to avoid disappointments. The following experts tell us how they prepare for this critical time of year.

Mary Kleen, Travel Edge, a Virtuoso Agency, New York City. Kleen has been in the Travel Industry since 1987. Her first role began as marketing planning manager with the Cunard Line.

Tips for booking early – how many travelers are booking in advance these days?

We’re finding booking trends about nine months prior to departure as opposed to the six month in the past. These trends are breaking further out across all categories (cruise, hotel tour). The change has had dramatic ramifications on availability for those booking closer in. Todays travel landscape differs due to demographic shifts, especially the growth in Asian travers. We advise travelers to book early through pricing incentives.

How do you stay ahead of the curve when it comes time for booking winter getaways?

We frequently tell vacationers to book a year out (essentially, as soon as they return from the current winter’s getaway).

Are you seeing more multi-gen holiday travel this season?

Multi-generational travel is now in its 15th+ year and still going strong! Just ‘getting away’ is being replaced by ‘making memories’. Good options for multi-generations are African safaris and cruises, particularly on ships with entertainment options.

If tomorrow a family of four came to you looking for a winter break holiday with a $5,000 all-in budget, what would do you recommend?

Cruises are still an incredible value as is skiing or the traditional warm-weather resorts. But consider Paris, Berlin or Venice, it’s off-peak so the pricing is low and there’s plenty of availability.

What are the top trends/destinations/products for holiday travel?

The top trends for holiday travel are an interesting mix, and include:

  • Christmas markets in Europe (especially via river cruises)
  • New York City
  • Florida
  • Colorado

Dave Lovick Jr and Sandy Lovick, forty year travel industry veterans and Owners of Seven Travel Leaders Locations in the Twin Cities, MN. Their agency in Rochester, MN recently became an official TSA Enrollment Center.

Tips for booking early – how many travelers are booking in advance these days?

Prices go up closer to the holidays. Booking early ensures more choices, such as nonstop flights and prime availability and travelers can take advantage of a deposit and balance later. There are also more options for LGBT Travelers; there are cruises and tours geared specifically to gay travelers.

Are you seeing more multi-gen holiday travel this season?

Yes, this demographic continues to grow, especially to European destinations.

If tomorrow a family of four came to you looking for a winter break holiday with a $5,000 all-in budget, what would you recommend?

The best value would be a Disney Cruise or an all-inclusive Mexico. An increased budget ($8,000) could get you to Europe. Another option is domestic, skip international and do a Canada or U.S. vacation.

What are the top trends/ destinations/ products for holiday travel?

Cruising and all-inclusive resorts are up, and families love renting villas in Mexico and the Caribbean. People also enjoy iconic holidays like ringing in the New Year in Bora Bora.Horse back Riding Karen Magee, Vice President, Partnerships and Leisure Services states “We’re seeing increased interest in European Christmas markets. It’s a way to get into the holiday spirit while experiencing local cultures and flavors. Also, the Caribbean is back – Anguilla, St. Barths and Turks are booming”, she adds .

Lynn Tyger, Leisure Travel Advisor, Frosch International Travel, Signature Travel Network, Houston, Texas. Tyger is passionate about Italy where she resided in her past life.

Tips for booking early – how many travelers are booking in advance these days?

I send out cards highlighting travel trends, this prompts travelers to call and start planning early; I also send reminders in digital postcards.

How do you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to planning winter getaways?

It’s easy for me as it’s something I’m personally interested in. Europe in winter is great as the crowds have declined and airfares are more reasonable. London, Munich, and Strasburg are some of my favorites. Holiday-themed river cruises are fun and seem to reduce the stress of the season. As a Scandinavian specialist, I think Sweden and Norway are magical in winter. Accommodations range from Arctic tree houses to glass igloos and chalet-type lodges.

Another tool is Frosch’s intranet site with a page for the festive season. The hotel team updates the site with news and availability.

What sales techniques do you use for securing winter break plans?

Persistence has been my best sales technique as well as consultation with my colleagues for resources. Our cumulative knowledge and collaborative spirit are a benefit we all enjoy.

Are you seeing more multi-gen holiday travel this season?

Not anymore than usual, but I’ve seen an increase in general over the years. Families want to take advantage of the time with their college-age kids, before they leave the nest, so the holiday season is an ideal family vacation.

If tomorrow a family of four came to you looking for a winter break holiday with a $5,000 all-in budget, what would do you recommend?

I would propose a domestic holiday, visit a city that celebrates the season with light displays and authentic Christmas markets. One with historic sites and architecture would be fun to explore, like Philadelphia where they replicate a European winter experience.

What are top trends / destinations / products for holiday travel?

Whether it’s skiing and taking a sleigh ride through the forest in Switzerland, or staying at a lodge in the Atacama Desert, with activities such as hiking, cycling, swimming in the natural family Hike hot spring pools, everyone is engaged and entertained.

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