Travel agencies continue to their post-COVID transformation.
Cruise is now the top travel product sold by travel agencies, overtaking all-inclusives, a bullish sign for the recovery of the travel industry post-COVID-19.
That is according to the latest edition of TMR’s Distribution Outlook, a comprehensive look into what is driving the travel trade, including how it has recovered since the pandemic.
“To truly understand the growth of the travel trade over this next boom period, we first need to get a sense of where the North American travel agency distribution channels stand now, so you, and your peers in the industry can see where you fit, and where there is room to grow,” TMR editor-in-chief Daniel McCarthy said.
“That is why we are proud to announce the second edition of our Distribution Outlook on the Travel Agency Channel, a report about you and your role within the industry. As your media voice, TMR is happy to have undertaken this research to show you, and your partners, just how valuable you are to the industry’s survival during COVID, and blossoming now.”
The survey queried 1,082 travel advisors, 51% of which were either travel agency owners or managers, and found that 32% of travel products sold by agencies were in the cruise segment, a number that was up 2% from 28% last year.
That was first overall. Cruises were then followed by all-inclusive vacations (30%, the same as 2021), air (17%, down 1% from 2021), and hotel (14%, down from 16% in 2021).
The fact that cruising is now the top segment proves just how far the industry has come since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when cruise ships made headlines because of forced quarantines onboard. It’s also notable that the cruise segment has overtaken all-inclusives, one of the segments that were seen as potential winners early on in the pandemic.
Now, agencies are seeing more interest in cruising than ever before and advisors have recognized that. In the survey, advisors said they want to largely focus on river (61%) and ocean (56%) cruises as their specialty.
The survey’s results, which debuted for the first time to the public today, also found a number of trends that advisors should be aware of moving forward, including:
- Couples are still the primary client profile (93% of respondents said so).
- Affiliations matter more than ever before (52% of respondents were associated with a consortium, 29% with a host, 7% with a franchise, and just 12% cited no affiliation).
- Customer service is the most important factor when it comes to choosing a supplier partner (79% of respondents said so).
- Online training courses are still extremely popular among advisors (79% of respondents said so).