Following a dismal 2016, the tour and travel industry in Germany—it is the Number 4 overseas source market for U.S. inbound tourism—is trying to catch up. At least, this is the way that Sebastian Ebel, CEO of Tui Germany, the country’s largest travel company, prefers to view the situation.
Just a little more than a week into the New Year, Ebel told the German travel trade publication, Touristik Aktuell, “We are currently observing a catch-up effect. Many Germans, who did not spend the holiday last year, book their travel very early this year,” with overall demand “significantly” higher than it was for the previous year.
As for the previous year, the Nuremberg-based marketing research firm GfK put it aptly when it released monthly data on travel agency sales for the year ending Oct. 31, 2016, saying “The travel agency sector has effectively lost a year of growth.”
Catching up might be a challenge, Touristik Aktuell seemed to suggest, when capacity is less than it has been in the past: “Interestingly, according to TUI, ‘there are significantly fewer options than in other years. Rather, customers usually book directly after the consultation,’ it says from Hannover.” (Tui is headquartered in Hannover, Germany.) Other points highlighted by the publication:
—The trend is that smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly important when it comes to finding the right vacation: nine out of ten travel bookings are researched online at least one time.
—When it comes to travel bookings, holidaymakers combine TUI studies with more and more online media and personal advice in the travel agency. Thus, 42 percent of the Germans book their previously online researched trip at the counter. For package holidays, the rate is even 58 percent. Tui pushes this through its own on-line link: around 500,000 Tui.com customers are advised annually by travel agencies.
—Especially in the trend: Spain, Italy, Greece and overseas destinations, including the USA, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Canada, Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Dominican Republic.
The tour and travel industry in German will get a better reading of its overall condition, including the prospects for what kind of business year 2017 will be, at the upcoming (March 8-12) ITB show in Berlin.