Latest ARC data shows encouraging trend for leisure agencies: Travel Weekly

Since the early days of the pandemic, glass-and-half-full members of the leisure travel agency community have made the case that as the pandemic ravages for business, it may be sharing its path due to travel’s new complex regulatory landscape. could.

Now, data compiled by the ARC show that the scenario is becoming a reality.

Each week beginning with the week ending February 13, air ticket transactions recorded by US leisure travel agencies outperformed OTA’s transaction numbers when viewed on relative terms in 2019.

For the week ended April 3, for example, leisure agencies, tour operators and cruise lines recorded just 7% fewer transactions in 2019 than they did during the same week, while OTAs recorded 18.1% fewer transactions . The number of air ticket transactions completed by travel management companies (TMCs) was 33.2% lower than in 2019, lagging both other sectors and reflecting the sluggish recovery pace of business travel.

Due to restrictions and the potential need to change trips, there is clearly an increase in demand for travel agents.–Chuck Thakston, ARC Managing Director of Data Science

The relative success of traditional leisure agencies compared to OTAs is a new development. During the first 23 months of the pandemic, it was OTAs that acquired the stake.

ARC data shows that holiday shops closed 33.7 percent fewer air ticket transactions as of April 3, compared to the 52-week period beginning April 2019, while OTAs recorded only 20.4% fewer transactions.

But leisure agencies began steadily closing that gap in October, said Chuck Thakston, ARC’s managing director of data science, before making the leap to OTAs in February.

“Travellers are now looking at travel agencies a little more than in 2019,” Thakston said. “Due to restrictions and the potential need to change trips, there has been an increase in demand for travel agents, clearly.”

Thakston also said that due to the recent increase in demand for holiday travel, some travel shoppers are booking a destination of their choice. As a result, they are turning to travel advisors for insight on the options.

Agencies are also paying attention to this trend. In Raleigh, NC-based travel experts, number 30 on Travel Weekly’s 2021 power list, ARC sales in the first quarter of 2022 were up 10% compared to 2019, according to Heather McIntyre, manager of technology and finance.

“There has been a steady increase in demand every week and, overall, the gap created by the pandemic has closed,” McIntyre said. “However, our survey of ICs that make up the largest portion of our corporate business are still down, indicating that the recent surge in tickets is from holiday customers.”

GDS Airline sales also rank number 32 on Travel Planners International, Power List, according to Jane Lee, vice president of industry engagement and support. In 2019, the host agency posted $20 million in sales over the air and is already trailing that figure in 2022. It also does not include air sold by travel planners agents independent of GDS, Lee said, as part of a package.

good news for business

ARC data is also showing another notable trend, this time for the entire travel agency channel including OTA and TMC. For the first two years of the pandemic, the pace of recovery in dollar value of sales by US travel agencies tracked the pace of recovery in terms of the raw number of tickets sold. But for each of the three weeks ending April 3, the situation was reversed.

For example, during the week ending April 3, the value of air tickets sold by US travel agencies was down 15.3% from the same week in 2019, while the number of ticket transactions decreased by 19.1% in 2019. This is a significant difference from the 52-week average, in which the value of tickets sold was 47.1% lower than at the beginning of April 2019, while the number of ticket transactions was down by a smaller amount, 34.8%.

Thakston said rising ticket prices, coupled with an increase in bookings for complex routes such as Europe travel, explain the reversal.

Jamie Biciada contributed to this report.

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