- “Trip stacking” is where travelers book multiple trips for the same vacation in case one is canceled because of COVID-19.
- Most people postpone their second trip rather than cancel it, utilizing flexible booking options.
- Trip stacking can make more money for travel agencies as they book multiple trips for clients.
Travelers are booking multiple trips for the same vacation period so they have a fallback if COVID-19 restrictions lead to one of their getaways being canceled.
CNBC reported that the practice, known as “trip stacking,” has become more popular as countries change travel rules as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread.
Trip stacking involves booking a more expensive and riskier trip, like a vacation abroad or a cruise, alongside a back-up or “safety net” trip to a different geographical area that’s less likely to be canceled, according to CNBC.
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Joshua Bush, CEO of Avenue Two Travel, told CNBC that one of his customers booked a Silverseas cruise from Athens to Rome in October and a 10-day trip to Hawaii during that period as a backup.
Another customer booked a trip to Portugal before travel to the country reopened, and a break in Florida as backup, Bush said. Portugal reopened, so the traveler pushed the Florida trip to the end of the year, he said.
Mexico and the Caribbean islands are popular backup destinations for Americans as are locations across the US, Bush added.
He told CNBC that most travelers postponed their backup trips instead of canceling them outright if they were able to do their first-choice trip. And even when travelers canceled their backup completely, the company was sometimes able to fill them with other customers booking last-minute getaways, he said.
As well as making it more likely that travelers can go to at least one of their chosen destinations, trip stacking can also make more money for travel agencies as they book two – or even three – trips for their clients, according to Travel Market Report.
“It’s how we hedge our bets,” Bush said at a Virtuoso travel conference, per Travel Market Report. Bush told CNBC that Avenue Two Travel was only booking overlapping trips for a “small group of our very best clients.”
But trip stacking could cause problems for hotels and airlines if too many customers canceled their bookings.
“Unlike making three or four dinner reservations and then deciding hours before where you want to go based on appetite or convenience, trip stacking will cause prices on airlines and hotels to go up for everyone,” Tim Hentschel, CEO of travel-technology company HotelPlanner, told CNBC. “Hotels and airlines yield their prices up as occupancy levels increase.”
Hentschel added that some hotels could start charging non-refundable booking fees upfront like airlines do, or change their cancellation policies.
“Travelers who ‘trip stack’ or arbitrage their travel options should remember the common courtesy of canceling all reservations and bookings as early as possible,” he said. “This is the socially responsible thing to do.”