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Archive for Sunday, March 24, 1996

TRAVEL AGENTS PROFIT FROM SPRING VACATIONS

March 24, 1996

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Lawrence travel agencies had another busy year of helping students prepare for Spring Break, but several agencies are reporting fewer groups traveling together this year.

Spring Break means fun in the sun for many students and additional revenue for area travel agencies.

Travel agents said they look forward to helping students make vacation arrangements for the week of Spring Break, but fewer large groups are making plans this year.

"We're doing more family spring breaks than we are doing groups of students," said Ruth Hughes, owner of Holiday Travel, 2112 W. 25th. "The trend of large groups is out. Now the trend is for four or six friends that want to go on Spring Break together."

Hughes said travel agencies usually begin purchasing airline tickets and making reservations in the fall to hold for Spring Break. However, she said, holding big groups of reservations is risky for a travel agency if it can't find the students to purchase the prepaid reservations.

"I personally have stopped blocking group rates, because I've been burned before," Hughes said.

Hughes isn't the only one seeing the group travel decline.

Anne Walters, manager of Carlson Travel, 800 Mass., said this is the first spring in several years that she has not held reservations for large groups.

"This year we just didn't see that the interest was there," she said.

Sometimes students find it easier to purchase group travel packages offered to students that often include airfare and lodging at discount prices, she said.

Early planning can help students stay within a budget, but many students end up making plans at the last minute.

"I would say that a majority of our students really don't get serious until after Christmas break," Walters said. "You can get there, but not at a decent price."

Some of this year's hot spots: Cancun, South Padre Island and Florida.

"Key West seems to be kind of the new destination this year," Walters said. And "the new nonstop flight to Los Angeles with Vanguard is completely sold out already."

Although Hughes and Walters couldn't say how much of their companies' business comes from Spring Break travel, they agreed that it has an influence.

"What it tells me is that our first quarter is one of our best three months during the year," Hughes said.

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