A look at operatorsí annual schedules for planning, marketing and delivering holidays and variants that affect those schedules
Planning, negotiating, contracting, marketing and successfully administering a package holiday is a complex management task and takes place over a long period of time. For example prices are set and printed over a year in advance - despite the vagaries of exchange rates, inflation, fuel prices, etc. For someone taking a holiday in August 2004 the principal tour operator's events are as follows :
LATE 2002 Planning which countries and resorts to use, and broadly how many holidays to offer
- Jan/Feb 2003 - Contracting with hoteliers and airlines
- May/April - 2003 Preparing brochures - prices, photographs, descriptions etc
- May 2003 - Brochure launch
- November 2003 - Airline scheduling meetings to avoid congested flight timings
- February 2004 - Bookings received and forecasts for programmes reviewed. Early adjustments made if necessary
- March/April 2004 - Employ overseas staff, update training, finalise arrangements with hoteliers, coach operators etc
- May 2004 - Issue tickets and final invoice
- July 2004 - Confirm names of customers to airlines, hotels, overseas staff
- August 2004 - Welcome holidaymakers.
Most tour operators offer winter and summer programmes. The milestones for winter programmes which run from 1 November, will be similar to those for the summer, but with six month's difference on all the dates.
Holiday Seasonality and Peak Season
The end of July and beginning of August is frequently referred to as the peak season for holidays. For overseas package holidays this is not entirely correct. Tour operators charter an aircraft for the entire season for weekly flights from May to October and then set the brochure prices to ensure that they fill all the seats on the aircraft every week. The success of tour operators in achieving this objective is demonstrated by arrival figures which show that there is very little weekly variation throughout the entire season.