Germans spend almost EUR 65 billion for their vacation before they start their trip

Frankfurt, 28 February 2018 – Vacation continues to enjoy the highest priority in private consumer spending amongst Germans – this is evidenced by the report on the travel year 2017 now submitted by the German Travel Association (DRV): for their vacation and private trips Germans spent a total of EUR 90.9 billion during the past year – including expenses on site in the country of destination. Out of this total amount travel services in the amount of EUR 64.7 billion were booked before the commencement of the journey in Germany – a plus of 8.2% versus prior year, according to the current analyses of the market research company GfK for DRV. This sum includes all expenses of Germans for package and individual trips from one overnight stay onwards.

The demand side: how Germans book their vacation

The market which is relevant for the German travel industry of EUR 65 billion is subdivided into the segments tour operators, service providers and product portals. The breakdown into these three segments shows the following shares in sales revenues and developments:

  1. More than half of the expenses of almost EUR 65 billion are accounted for with EUR 33.7 billion by organised trips – ie the package and modular offers of tour operators.  Sales revenues on the tour operator market hence grew last year by 8% to EUR 31.2 billion. This means that tour operator trips with a share of 52.1% continue to account for the largest part of travel expenses. “It can be clearly seen that in times of uncertainty German vacationers rely on the security of organised trips,” Norbert Fiebig, the President of DRV, sums up.
  2. 36.8% of the total expenses of almost EUR 65 billion and hence EUR 23.8 billion (prior year: EUR 21.7 billion) are directly booked with airlines, trains, hotels and car rental providers – the so-called service providers. Two-thirds – and hence the lion’s share – of these sales revenues are accounted for by hotel bookings.
  3. 11.1% of the total travel expenses or EUR 7.2 billion are booked on product portals. These are hotel, flight, car rental websites on which only one type of product can be purchased in each case. This area has shown during the past three years the highest percentage growth – namely 10.4% per year.

When analysing the way Germans book their vacation, there has been clearly a shift to digital media during the past three years. The share of travel services booked online increased from 35.5% to 40%. This means that of the around EUR 65 billion travel expenses, 60% - and hence EUR 38.8 billion – are booked via offline channels. These include travel agencies, call centres and bookings directly with a service provider. When looking only at the offline channels, travel agencies remain with a 29% share in bookings the largest segment, but lost during the past three years 3.5 percentage points. When considering the online channels only, it can be seen that 42% of all online bookings are accounted for by direct bookings with service providers.

The supply side: development on the travel sales market

The sales revenues in the German travel sales sector have very significantly increased according to analyses by the German Travel Association in 2017 – in the vacation segment by 5% and in the business trip segment by 4% - to now a total of EUR 26.4 billion (prior year: EUR 25.2 billion). These growing total sales revenues have resulted in extremely positive news: during the past year the average sales revenues per travel agency rose by 5% on an annual basis. This makes it possible for travel agencies to altogether work in an economically more efficient manner. The DRV travel agency barometer shows on an annual comparison basis slightly higher ratios of operating income to revenue in all operation sizes.

The German travel sales market has recently increasingly changed and is marked by a stronger specialisation. The categorisation in individual types of travel agencies and other reservation points based on the number of agency contracts concluded – as used to be the case in the past – is due to these changes and the concentration of sales on individual segments or operators is no longer expedient. Against this backdrop, the analysis is now converted to the total number of all travel sales points – a subdivision into individual types of travel agencies is no longer carried out. Consequently, there are now 11,116 sales points in Germany where trips can be booked. These include full-range agencies, agencies specialising in tourism and those specialising in business travel as well as sales offices which focus on one tour operator or a certain part of the travel offering. Based on this new structure, there has been a slight decline by slightly more than 2% in the course of 2017.
On a nationwide basis there are 12.6 travel agency sales points per 100,000 inhabitants. The highest travel agency density – number of travel sales points per 100,000 inhabitants – continues to be recorded in Thuringia and Saxony, whilst the lowest density is reported by Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein. Most travel agencies in large cities (more than 100,000 inhabitants) are in Berlin, followed by Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Düsseldorf.

During the past years it has become increasingly important to distinguish between high-street travel agencies belonging to a travel agency chain, a franchise system or a travel agency co-operation. By now the share of these so-called system-bound sales has increased to more than 95%. By way of comparison: in 1990 they accounted only for 30%.
During the past year the number of employed of tour operators and travel agencies has had a particularly positive development: according to the Federal Employment Agency, the headcount increased from 68,846 in 2016 to currently 70,176 employees subject to social insurance contributions.

The sales revenue data on tour operators and travel agencies were converted to a new data source in 2017: to “GfK Mobility” by the market research company GfK. “Mobility” is a panel of 19,000 households with approximately 38,000 interviewees who document all trips of more than 50 km during the entire year. Data on the travel sales points have been determined since 1998 by Project M of Lüneburg in the DRV sales database.

About DRV:
As a top-level association, DRV represents the travel industry in Germany and defends, more particularly, the interests of tour operators and travel agents. DRV is supported by a significant economic strength: Its members represent the largest part of the sales revenues on the tour operator and travel agent market. Several thousands of member companies, including many tourism service providers, turn DRV into a strong community which pools many different interests – driven by the motto “The travel industry. All destinations. One voice.”