Despite the fact that the travel industry faced a series of unexpected setbacks in the past year, U.S.-based travel agencies managed to make 2019 a record-setting year in terms of airline ticket sales.
According to a report released by the Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), U.S. agencies achieved record sales for airline tickets in 2019, collectively valued at nearly $97.4 billion, an increase of about 2.8% compared to 2018.
The number of U.S. travelers taking domestic trips increased by 2% while those taking international trips increased by nearly 3%, even as the average price for a round-trip ticket rose to $494, a $4 increase compared to 2018.
“The increase was aided by a 10% surge in December ticket sales when compared to the same period in 2018, totaling $6.1 billion,” according to the ARC report.
The report also tracked Electronic Miscellaneous Document (EMD) sales number, which saw a sizable increase in 2019. The EMD transactions indicate the sales of ancillary services, like premium seating and other miscellaneous services used for travel but settled separately from the airline ticket.
“EMD sales in December swelled 44% to help total 2019 sales increase by 8% to $84.6 million. EMD transaction volume last year increased by 8.5% over 2018, totaling 1.4 million,” the report stated.
According to a recent “Air Sales and the Travel Agency Distribution Channel” report from Phocuswright, travel agencies are responsible for the major boost in air tickets sold (despite the fact that ARC’s numbers include OTAs).
“Air sales by agents are up and rising, and air remains the largest product category for travel agents. The number of agents charging fees continues to increase, providing another source of revenue on air sales along with commissions,” the report said.