The latest monthly analysis by the Nuremberg-based marketing research firm GfK (Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung, or Society for Consumer Research) shows that late sales for the last two months of the summer 2018 season—September and October—were up by 3 percent. As reported by the German travel trade publication FVW, this growth went completely to online sales channels, while travel agency revenues dropped by one percent.
Summer 2018 sales are now 12 percent ahead of last year on a cumulated basis, with one more sales month to go. This means that both online and offline sales channels will end the year with strong growth rates.
Above: GfK figures for German holiday sales in September
The top seller in travel agencies and online last month were winter holidays, which comprised more than 40 percent of revenues, according to GfK, which analyzed sales by 2,000 representative travel agencies, OTAs and tour operator websites. Sales grew by 11 percent last month September, leaving cumulated sales 9 percent ahead of the same time last year.
Early bookings for next summer were also an important factor, representing almost a quarter (23 percent) of total revenues. Summer 2019 revenues are so far showing double-digit growth, although the basis is too low for solid forecasts, according to GfK.
This news, from the perspective of the retailer, seems to complement what INBOUND has heard this year from international and receptive tour operators who—despite the concern by some that outbound travel to the U.S. might fall off due to the unpopularity of U.S. President Donald J. Trump and a resurgence in the popularity of short haul destinations in the Middle East, Turkey and Spain.
From a longer-term perspective, it is quite possible that German visitation to the United States next year might equal, or exceed, that of the record year of 2015—even if early (through April 2018) YTD figures for this year are flat vs. 2017.