In a report that came out just prior to ITB in Berlin, the German Travel Association (DRV/Deutsche ReiseVerband) reported that in Germany—no major overseas source market remains as reliant on the travel agent and travel agency as does Germany—the travel agency still prevails as the place where Germans book their travel.
The DRV report said that 60 percent of the total travel expenses of around €65 billion ($79,9 billion) in 2017 – more than €39 billion ($48 billion) were booked offline—at travel agencies, call centers or directly at the service provider.
Overall, said DRV, the turnover of the German travel distribution business continues to increase. In the holiday segment, it increased last year by five percent and was €26.4 billion ($34.5 billion). The average turnover in a travel agency also increased, by around five percent.
What Does this Mean? One can muse about the answer to this question, but the impact continues to reflect itself in the continued reliance on print products by U.S. travel suppliers who promote their destinations, attractions and services. It also means that travel suppliers who do business with German operators will continue to be pressured to buy advertising in the print brochures operators use.
If travel sellers are waiting for digital marketing applications and online channels to ascend to the same place of prominence that they enjoy in other key country markets, they will have to wait a while for it to take place in Germany. Even though the number of travel agencies is declining, it is doing so at a very slow rate—about two percent a year in recent years.
Other points of note in the DRV report include the following:
—DRV has changed its travel agent counting method. “The German travel distribution market has changed in recent times increasingly and in particular more specialized,” it said, in announcing that the classification into individual types of travel agencies and other booking offices on the basis of the number of concluded agency contracts is no longer expedient. “Against this background, the consideration is switched to the total number of all travel distribution agencies altogether— subdivision into individual travel agency types is no longer made,” said the DRV.
—So, now, sales offices include the full-range of agencies specializing in tourism, the business travel-oriented agencies and the sales offices that focus on a tour operator or a specific section of the travel offer.
—The highest density of travel agencies continues to exist in Thuringia and Saxony, the lowest in Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein.
—Independent agencies continue to decline as system-based sales continue to increase: Today, 95 percent of all travel agencies belong to a chain, a franchise system or a travel agency cooperation. In 1990, this only applied to 30 percent of the agencies.