A number of international travellers are booking stays later in a bid to take advantage of the weakened rand.
Wayne Troughton, CEO of hospitality and property consulting firm, HTI Consulting, says lead times in Cape Town have dropped from months to weeks as travellers seek to capitalise on a favourable exchange rate.
Peter Schoeman, Divisional Director Sales and Marketing at City Lodge Hotel Group, says for business travellers lead times have shortened to three days in some cases, depending on the visa requirements. He adds that while there is a longer lead time for tourists than business travellers, this has also reduced sharply.
The Blue Train is also seeing shorter booking periods. Themba Masheula, Brand Marketing & Communications Manager at The Blue Train, says while typically The Blue Train considers bookings to be last-minute when guests book within a month prior to departure, the company is seeing people booking two weeks prior to departure.
Nicholas Barenblatt, Protea Hospitality Group Marketing Manager, says Protea has seen a slight shortening of booking periods, in Cape Town in particular, over the past couple of months. However, he says the change is nothing statistically significant.
Barenblatt argues that because the rand is not expected to rebound soon, travellers can afford to book ahead and be more judicious with their spending. He says the bulk of the group’s bookings are made months in advance, rather than weeks. “The reality is we are a long-haul destination and most people plan these trips for a long time,” he says.
According to Barenblatt, the group is seeing an increase in incremental spend from international travellers because holiday budgets are going further. Masheula agrees: “It would seem that people who are already in SA for holidays suddenly realise that they have extra cash flow due to the plunging rand, and decide to fit in extra activities.”