Group commercial director of The Travel Network Group, Martin Andrew, told delegates at its conference held last weekend in Slovenia, that although the travel market is still in decline there is strong evidence of improvement.
He said that one of the factors driving significant sales is the increase in holidaymakers opting for all-inclusive holidays, with almost one in two summer bookings being made for this market.
Andrew said: "Although there has been a decline of 1% in passengers this year compared to 2012, there's been a 3% increase in revenue. As a result, operators are moving towards quality of sales and away from volume of sales. This market improvement sees a price increase of £46 per passenger. Looking at the growth destinations, it's Tunisia that stands out. As for declining destinations, it's capacity cuts that have driven this, with Turkey, Costa Blanca and Cyprus accounting for more than 100,000 passenger deficit year-on-year.”
Andrew also predicted a decline in demand for cruising. He said: “Don't be surprised to see the cruise lines continue to discount heavily. They've got a lot of empty cabins on the new ships they've built to serve this summer."
Other statistics included High Street bookings down by 4%, with Andrew attributing part of this to the closure of High Street agencies; a 3% increase in family bookings; and shorter duration holidays, with durations of less than six nights growing by up to 70%. Andrew said: "A consequence of this is there will be less availability for family product and less need for discounting over the next few months, which should in turn drive early bookings for next year."
Andrew also outlined the top growth destinations for winter 2013/14 with the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Morocco taking the top three spots. The top three declining destinations included the cruise market, Costa Blanca and Florida.
Andrew said: "The resilience of the package holiday continues to surprise me. There's no doubt that with such little choice outside of the big two operators, there's a need for agents to have the ability to operate in the dynamic packaging sector. Developing the capability to have a multi-channel retail experience is critical for success.
"The next phase for us is to implement three key initiatives. The first is a preferred partners programme to drive sales towards those suppliers who provide us with the best propositions. We will rolling this programme out over the rest of 2013. The second initiative is the development of the Honeycomb platform, which is at the heart of the commercial strategy. Finally, we will continue to develop a unique value-added product proposition for our members."