GfK Travel Insights

German summer holiday bookings improve in March

Summer holiday bookings in Germany picked up moderately last month but still remain weak overall, according to the latest sales figures from GfK.

Bookings of summer holidays in travel agencies and online grew by 2% last month compared to the level of March 2018, the market researchers’ analysis of sales by 2,000 representative travel agencies, OTAs and tour operator websites showed. Growth was again generated by online sales rather than by travel agencies, whose sales were at last year’s levels.

On the positive side, this was the second consecutive month of low growth after a 1% rise in February and may mark a turnaround in demand for summer holidays after lower sales in November, December and January (which showed a sharp 9% drop).

Overall, however, there is still a 1% cumulative decline for all bookings of summer 2019 holidays since last November. But this figure is compared to very high booking levels early last year, with summer holiday sales up by 15% as of end-March 2018.

Many experts believe the current slow bookings are due to consumers waiting to see whether 2019 will again be a hot summer in Germany, like last year. As a result, the German organised travel industry is now pinning its hopes on strong late sales to generate growth this year.  

In terms of detailed figures for summer 2019, demand is down for spring-break holidays, with a 14% fall for May and a 10% rise for June (when many German states have one-week school holidays for Pentecost).

Bookings are also slightly lower for July, August and September. Only October (when many regions have half-term school holidays) is currently above last year’s levels, with a 7% rise.

Meanwhile, winter 2018/19 looks likely to close with a 4% rise in revenues, even after a 10% increase in the previous winter. Winter bookings in March were 1% lower than last year but this did not change the overall growth figure. With this year’s late Easter holiday, bookings for March are down by 14% while April is showing a very strong 31% increase in sales revenues.