GfK Travel Insights

German holiday sales recover in May

Holiday bookings in Germany recovered last month to previous year levels after a dramatic 12% year-on-year drop in April, the latest monthly sales figures from market researchers GfK show.  

A 4% rise in online revenues in May compensated for a 2% drop in travel agency sales and left the month at the same turnover level as May 2018, according to the market researchers’ analysis of sales by 2,000 representative travel agencies, OTAs and tour operator websites.

With zero growth last month, cumulative sales of summer 2019 holidays since last autumn remained 2% lower than 12 months ago, like in April. However, as GfK pointed out, May 2018 closed with a 14% year-on-year rise in sales revenue. This means that May 2019 sales are well above the levels of this time two years ago on a cumulative basis.

Nevertheless, the German market still has some way to go to catch up on 2018, with only 73% of last year’s total summer revenues achieved to date. The travel industry thus needs to sell holidays worth more than one quarter of last summer’s total turnover in the next few months in order to achieve zero growth this year.

Demand in May was largely driven by late bookings, especially for June with its three ‘long weekends’ created by springtime public holidays. However, the cumulative 10.6% growth for June did not compensate for a 15% drop in revenues for travel in May.

Moreover, the two main summer holiday months of July (-2.8%) and August (-2%) are still behind last year’s sales levels.

In contrast, early bookings for next winter were strong last month with a 7% year-on-year increase. This means that 24.3% of all revenues in May were generated by the winter 2019/20 season “and later”. This is 1.4 percentage points ahead of the same period last year for winter 2018/19. 

Overall, taking summer 2019 and winter 2019/20 sales together, travel agency and online sales revenues showed a small 1% increase last month.