German market trends

Weak sales in peak booking month

A two-month bookings surge came to an abrupt end in January with stagnating sales in the traditional ‘peak’ month for summer holiday bookings.

February 15, 2017
Bookings for Greece are soaring.
Photo: Thinkstock

Travel agents celebrated strong bookings in November and December as Germans snapped up bargain offers and took advantage of early booking discounts. But this trend surprisingly halted last month even though January is normally the top sales month.

German travel agents saw a 1% drop in winter revenues last month while summer bookings stagnated at last year’s level, which was already particularly poor with a 12% year-on-year slump, the latest GfK market trends survey showed.

As a result, summer 2017 sales are now running 6% ahead of last year on a cumulative basis, down from a 10% growth rate in December, according to analysis of bookings in 1,500 representative travel agencies.

The overall 2016/17 tourism year is still showing a small sales increase of 1% on a cumulative basis, with the 6% summer growth outweighing a 4% decline in winter season sales, according to the GfK figures.

Commenting on the latest sales trends, Dörte Nordbeck, Head of Travel & Logistics Germany at GfK, pointed out: “We assume that some holidaymakers have learned from last year’s (capacity) bottlenecks and the resulting price increases, and have booked their summer holidays even earlier than usual this year.”

At first sight, the GfK figures appear to conflict with those of IT services company TATS which reported a 5% rise in advance holiday bookings through to October 2017 last month, leaving a cumulative increase of 6.8%. Once again there were strong cruise bookings, which were up by 14% last month and are now 17% ahead of last year.

However, there is a different basis. The TATS figures measure sales from some 2,000 travel agencies, OTAs and consolidators through its Ibiza reservations system, while GfK conducts a representative survey designed to reflect overall market trends.

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