German tour operators

Coping with crises and new competitors

German tour operators can look back on good figures for this year but have plenty of challenges ahead in 2016, says fvw’s Klaus Hildebrandt.

The results of this year's fvw dossier on the German tour operator market are good. Revenues have grown by 4% and half the companies report higher profits. The record numbers for revenues and customer volumes show that tour operator holidays are not an outdated business model.

But fundamental changes are becoming clearer. The market is only growing with cruises and long-haul trips, and the bread-and-butter business of the big tour operators - package holidays in short- and medium-haul destinations - is stagnating. Moreover, crises in destinations such as Tunisia and weaker demand for major destinations like Turkey are impacting on business.

Moreover, a structural change is taking place. Hotel portals such as are forcing their way into holiday destinations, and Airbnb is turning into a booking platform for holiday homes, and probably soon small hotels, in countries such as Greece and Spain.

So 2016 will not be an easy year for tour operators. Bookings have been weak since the terror attacks in Paris and with the uncertain world political situation customers are apparently waiting with their holiday plans for next year. If business does not pick up after Christmas then there could be a big drop in prices, possibly for Turkey. However, it is clear that even in times of crisis Germans are not giving up on their holidays but are changing destinations or types of holiday.

Against this background, tour operators need to fine-tune their business models and master the crises so that they can again celebrate record figures again next year.

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