More and more Germans go increasingly on holiday and spend increasingly for their trips – as they did during the past year. They focus to a growing extent on package tours. Travel spending increased last year altogether by 5%; spending on package tours even by 7%. Sales revenues through travel agencies increased and online booking channels continue to gain in importance – this is the stocktaking of the travel year 2018 in a nutshell, which the German Travel Association (DRV) has submitted shortly before the beginning of the world’s largest travel trade fair ITB Berlin (6 to 10 March). The evaluations of the market research company GfK serve as a basis. Spending on vacation and private trips rose to the new record value of EUR 67.9 billion. This amount includes all spending on vacation and private trips from one night onwards, which were booked in Germany prior to starting the journey. If one includes spending on site in the vacation country, Germans spent a total of EUR 95.6 billion on travel last year – a plus of approximately more than 5% versus 2017. In this way, the travel industry closed the second year in a row with significantly higher sales revenues.
Of the total spending of almost EUR 68 billion before starting the journey, EUR 36 billion are accounted for by organised trips – ie the package and module offers of the tour operators. Sales revenues on the tour operator market hence grew from EUR 33.7 billion in 2017 by 7% last year. In this connection not only large tour operators but also the medium-sized and special tour operators were able to sell more trips. Moreover, there was again a high demand for cruises.
For the high-street travel agencies, the market research company GfK has calculated for the entire tourism year 2017/18 (1 November 2017 to 31 October 2018) a 7% rise in sales revenues. Not only the booking sales revenues increased, but also the number of travellers rose by 3% according to the GfK statistics.
Self-organised trips for which vacationers do not buy packages from tour operators but book individual travel components from airlines, train, hotel and car rental providers as well as from online product portals such as Booking or Airbnb, did not record the same strong increase and remained below average. Sales revenues were 3% up here and reached EUR 31.9 billion.
Measured in terms of total spending on the travel market, the significance of tour operators increased: the market share of package tours rose to now 53%. “There is a growing trend amongst German vacationers relying on the safety of organised trips. 2018 was an absolute package tour year,” DRV President Fiebig is summing up. Mainly the increased bookings for Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and Greece (in the order of the highest growth percentages) acted as drivers for package tours – these countries are booked by vacationers almost exclusively as classical package tours.
Distribution and booking channels are changing: shift to digital media
There are currently clear shifts as far as the booking and sales channels are concerned: Germans are meanwhile booking their travel increasingly via digital media. Sales revenues through high-street travel agencies grow, too, but the online channels record significantly higher percentage increases. During the past year already 43% of the little less than EUR 68 billion were booked via online channels. The share in sales revenues of travel services booked online amounted to only 35% four years ago.
At present 57% of the travel spending is booked via offline channels – which continues to be the highest share in terms of volume. These offline channels include travel agencies, call centres and direct bookings with a tour operator (eg bus and special tour operators) or service providers (hotel, airline, etc) – last year still 60% were using these channels.
If one considers the organised trips – ie tour operator bookings of EUR 36 billion, it can be seen that more than half (53%) of the sales revenues through high-street travel agencies were generated offline. The online share rose, however, by almost 3 percentage points to now 35%. This is different for the self-organised trips: here the online share accounts already for more than half and continues to grow stronger.
“What is decisive for customers is not whether bookings are made online or offline. The form of travel selected by the customer is much more important. It is relevant whether customers book with service providers and product portals and hence buy only individual services without advice. Or whether they book the full carefree package of the tour operators with travel to and from the destination, accommodation and transfers as well as a better securing through a crisis management. All this – if requested – in combination with competent advice of travel professionals at the travel agencies, which does not cost one cent more,“ DRV President Norbert Fiebig explains.
The sales revenue data on the tour operators and travel agencies originate from the data source GfK MobilitätsMonitor of the market research company GfK. The GfK MobilitätsMonitor records as a consumer panel on a monthly basis all trips from a distance of 50 kilometres onwards among 19,000 households with approximately 38,000 interviewees.
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.