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Published on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Why 'low season' is so THIS season

Could opening up the low season satisfy social distancing demands and help travel companies make up the huge amounts of money they've lost to Covid-19?

Ged Brown, CEO of Low Season Traveller, a destination marketing company dedicated to inspiring travellers to visit out of season, says the time is right to rethink the message and push the positive side of out-of-peak-season travel.

"Travel has never pro-actively pushed the low seasons. The industry created an issue that Covid-19 has firmly shone a spotlight on. We told people when the best time to travel was. The result has been crowded destinations at certain times of the year, with little or no business the rest of the year.

Overtourism has been a massive issue for a long time. One way to get around overtourism, given the increasing number of visitors, is increasing prices. That would be awful. Travel would return to the realms of the relatively wealthy.

The obvious solution is that as an industry we need to promote the low season. You can welcome more visitors year-on-year if you encourage them to come in the low season. For me, it's the perfect solution. I could never stand the crowds. The low season is better in many ways. It's less crowded, the locals have more time to speak to you. It's cheaper - but that's the icing on the cake. The only downside is that the weather is different.

Take Rome, for example. It's crowded in July. And hot. Rome in January, meanwhile, is a far better experience. You can stay in a five-star hotel for half the price. There are fewer crowds. You just need to take a jumper and a coat.

If you looked at the back of a brochure (remember them?) a few years ago, you'd see Antigua gets a lot of rain in June. The reality, however, is that, for two hours in the evening, it buckets it down. It's actually very refreshing. And for the rest of the day, the weather's lovely.

As an industry we need to start to have more confidence. This is not about selling low season travel like distressed stock. The message should be: 'We sell this because it's a wonderful time to travel.' It's obvious, really.

And it's not about pushing holidays only during term-time. There are lots of destinations - like Antigua - that are low-season during our peak season, which is great for families. It's about telling families where they can go. 

But families aren't the whole market; the under 30s, singles and empty nesters can all travel when they like.

With Covid-19 wiping out high-season travel for many destinations, now's the time to focus on the low season. A lot of hotels in southern Europe and the Med are not going to have a 2020 peak season. They have to try and make up that revenue. If you had a business that made 80% of revenue in one place, you would be looking to diversify. They need to be less reliant on a certain number of months of the year and they're going to have to open up during the low season months. This will also support year-round jobs, helping local economies.

What is Low Season Traveller, exactly?

People have asked us how we describe our company. We're not a travel agent, we're not a tour operator. Our objective is to inspire people. We call ourselves a destination marketing communications company. We do marketing podcasts and we're setting up our own TV channel. We're going to start going to destinations and interviewing hoteliers and holidaymakers on their thoughts on visiting during the low season.

I figured that people would also want to book after viewing the website, so we will pass any enquiries on to Designer Travel. That doesn't have to be an exclusive arrangement though, we welcome other agents or tour operators with low-season deals to get involved and post those on the site.

Any commission we make on sales we'll support community-run charities that we feature. How will we make our money? Through subscriptions from hoteliers, tour operators and anyone else who wants to attract visitors during the low-season.

We are the first and the original low-season travel company, but more will follow. Covid-19 has given us an opportunity. The old way of 2019 and before is just not workable now. It's starting to change already. People are now carefully considering how they travel and are trying to enforce social distancing. Low season travel means travelling without the crowds.

The time wasn't right before, but with the focus on slow travel, authentic experiences, getting away from the crowd and social distancing, now the time is right. 

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