It doesn’t seem that long ago that the Nuremberg-based marketing research firm GfK reported, when it released monthly data on German travel agency sales for the year ending Oct. 31, 2016, that “the travel agency sector has effectively lost a year of growth.” The latest GfK monthly report on agency sales—it’s a representative sales analysis of 1,500 agencies across Germany—for May 2017 shows a mixed but slightly positive outlook for an industry that is recovering from a “lost year.” Consider the following, a reported by the German travel trade publication, FVW:
- Travel agencies in Germany increased their overall sales by 4 percent in May following an 8 percent decline in April.
- Bookings for summer 2017 remained stuck at last year’s levels in May after mostly good increases in recent months. This left the underlying cumulative growth for this summer at up 3 percent—the same level as in April.
- Looking at months of departure, July (up 4.6 percent) and September (up 8.8 percent) both show increases, but August—it is the peak travel month for nearly every European nation—was 3.2 percent lower.
- May sales closed with a 13.8 percent decline, but bookings for June were up by 20.6 percent due to this year’s later spring holidays in parts of the country.
- There was a boom in early bookings of winter 2017/18 holidays last month. Sales revenues for holidays next winter soared by 21 percent compared to May 2016, and accounted for a quarter of total sales revenues last month.
- The key factor in this surge, according to GfK, is the continuing policy of leading tour operators to open up their winter programs for travel agency bookings ahead of their official brochure presentations and earlier than in previous years.
- This year’s rising sales following stagnant business in 2016 has improved the mood and expectations in German travel agencies, according to the latest monthly FVW sales climate index, as nearly 40 percent of participating travel agencies expect improving demand in the next 6 months—10 percentage points higher than last month.