Exclusive: 55 Percent of Agencies Report Increased Sales in 2023

Same-store sales are up for over half (55 percent) of U.S. travel agencies compared to last year. Of those that reported sales were up through September 2023 versus the same period in 2022, just over four in 10 said sales were up 16 to 30 percent, while another one in 10 said that same-store sales were up 51 percent or more. These findings come from Travel Agent’s debut “Travel Trends & Advisor Insight Report.”

What else did we learn?

The plurality of respondents (46 percent) said their clients spend on average $5,000 to $10,000 annually. These clients have some interest in sustainable experiences but are only willing to pay marginally more for them (up to 10 percent). Rather, clients are more likely to spend money on hotel accommodations (66 percent), air travel upgrades (47 percent), adventure/active tours (44 percent) and culinary tours/dining experiences (41 percent). When it comes to the top destinations that clients are visiting, there are few surprises. The most popular destinations right now are Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico and Hawaii.

Elsewhere, despite the bad press the sector received throughout the pandemic, cruise interest among clients is up since COVID. In fact, six in 10 advisors (61 percent) said so. Clients have interest in a variety of cruise experiences, with the most popular being premium cruise brands (59 percent), family cruises (54 percent), contemporary cruise lines (53 percent) and river cruises (52 percent). Luxury cruises also received strong interest among travelers with 46 percent of advisors reporting so.

That said, travel advisor clients have at least some concern about the state of the economy, including inflation, the stock market or a possible recession. Over half (54 percent) of advisors reported their clients have some concern, while another 19 percent said their clients were very concerned.

In addition, while supplier relations are largely positive, air travel also continues to be a major concern—as 75 percent of respondents said. The top issues reported by advisors were delays/cancelations and price (74 percent each). Other popular responses included airport navigation/wait times (37 percent), seat availability (27 percent) and destinations offered (17 percent).

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), many travel advisors (40 percent) are unsure how it could impact their business. Another quarter (28 percent) feel it poses a threat to their business. The remaining third feel it will either marginally (21 percent) or significantly improve (12 percent) the capabilities of a travel advisor. Only a quarter have even tested out AI, such as to write blogs, email copy, proposals and agency and advisor bios, identifying key attractions in a city, title generation and creating marketing/ads.

To see the full report, visit www.travelagentcentral.com/travel-trends-advisor-insight-report.

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