German market trends

Summer bookings surge in May

Summer holiday bookings on the German market soared by 21% in revenue terms last month, driven by last-minute sales, according to the latest monthly survey of travel agency sales by market researchers GfK.

The strong May figures, which showed an 23% rise in overall sales including winter bookings, are a clear upturn on April when summer sales increased by 5.6%. However, the high growth figures reflect a statistical effect as they compare to weak sales in May 2014, when there was zero overall growth and a 6.7% slump in sales for summer 2014.

Nevertheless, there was clearly a healthy underlying growth rate last month. The cumulative sales increase for summer 2015 now lies at 7.5%, which is the highest level so far this year.

Last-minute bookings were a key sales driver in May, with sales for holiday departures in the same month representing 8.4% of total sales. Bookings were also strong for June, with a 15.4% share of the overall volume, the survey of 1,200 travel agencies found.

In addition, there was again good early demand for winter 2015/16, and the forthcoming season reached 20% of overall sales in revenue terms, the GfK survey found.

The strong growth was also reflected in the monthly survey of 2,400 mostly business travel-focused agencies by IT services company TATS. This showed a 10% rise in tourism revenues last month, resulting an overall 4.2% rise since the start of the year. Advance bookings for departures up to October, however, are moderate with only a 1.1% rise last month, leaving a cumulative increase of 2.6% since the start of the year.

The latest sales figures have certainly improved the mood of German travel agents in early June. The number of travel agents with “good” sales levels rose to 37.5% compared to 31% one month earlier, according to the monthly ‘sales climate index’ survey by consultants Dr. Fried + Partner for fvw. Nearly half are “satisfied” while only 18% described sales as “poor”.

Optimism for the coming months is less rosy, however. Only 20% expect rising sales in the next few months, compared to 25% one month ago, while the clear majority (64%) expects stable demand levels.

Overall, the ‘sales climate index’ has risen to 103 points, indicating solid growth. This compares to just 95 points 12 months ago, when the football World Cup caused a slump in sales.