GfK Travel Insights

Summer bookings drop in December

There was little seasonal cheer for German travel agents last month as their holiday bookings dropped below the previous year’s levels and overall travel trade sales were driven by online bookings, according to the latest monthly GfK figures.

The good news in December came from winter holiday bookings which increased by 4% and left cumulative bookings up by 6% to date. This is one percentage point lower than in November but still indicates a solid winter season overall, the market researchers’ analysis of sales by 2,000 representative travel agencies, OTAs and tour operator websites showed.

More important for travel agents is the coming summer season, which made up 60% of total sales revenues in December. Demand is proving weak, however, with a slight 1% fall in summer 2019 bookings last month following on from a 2% drop in November.

Once again, travel agency sales lagged behind overall trends. Their revenues for winter 208/19 were down by 1% and were 4% lower for the forthcoming summer. Higher online bookings compensated for these declines, and generated the slightly better overall figures, according to GfK.

However, it is still fairly early in the booking season, with only one quarter of last year’s total summer revenues generated to date. A clearer picture of demand trends will come with the January and February figures, which will be challenged by strong growth rates of early 2018.

The GfK figures were supported by the latest travel agency sales figures from IT services provider Tats for December. These showed a 3.1% drop in overall sales, with tourism including cruises down by 1.7% but cruises alone up by 4.6%. This indicates weak demand for beach holidays last month.

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