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WhatU.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) released results of a members survey at its annual Conference & Marketplace, held this month in Orlando, Fla. The responses show optimism for the year ahead. Roughly 82% of members expect to see growth in sales next year, with 45% expecting sales to increase by 10% or more.
Why It MattersThe survey shows a strong industry overall — 69% of members reported an increase in sales for 2019, and 62% said they increased staff in 2019. More than half (56%) forecast increasing staff size again in 2020. As a result, advisors can expect to see further investment by tour companies — with added itineraries and options.
Fast Facts- Reinforcing the contribution travel advisors make to USTOA members’ businesses: 84% report the use of advisors to sell their products. More than half (51%) of members’ bookings in 2019 were through a travel agency. For the year ahead, nearly all (94%) respondents anticipate business booked through travel advisors to remain the same or increase in 2020.
- More than a third (37%) of USTOA members attribute the growth in sales to “better and improved marketing.”
- The top three potential threats to business in 2020 are the presidential election, a recession and global financial instability.
- This year’s list of emerging destinations are Egypt and Colombia (tied for first); Slovenia (a first-timer on the list); Thailand; Vietnam; and Morocco and Ethiopia (tied for fifth).
- The most popular international destinations are Italy; France; Spain, Greece and the United Kingdom (tied for third); Ireland and Japan (tied for fourth); and Germany and South Africa (tied for fifth).
- Top domestic destinations include California; New York; Florida and Nevada (tied for third); Arizona; and Alaska and Hawaii (tied for fifth).
- Members were also asked to name the destinations/sites that travelers should see now, with some sense of urgency before overcrowding, climate change or other factors impact the experience. Antarctica was named first, followed by Machu Picchu in Peru and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Venice, Italy (tied for third).
- Arts and culture is cited by survey participants as the top travel category driving sales in 2019, with wildlife and nature a close second. Local immersion, small groups/small ships and uncharted destinations are the top three travel trends projected to grow the most over the next five years. Almost half (44%) of members named multigenerational family travel as their top growing passenger category in 2019.
What They Are Saying“Member confidence levels for the year ahead are high with roughly three quarters of our tour operator members ‘confident’ or ‘highly confident’ that revenues will increase in the coming year,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. “This is particularly encouraging, especially as we approach an election year, where historically consumer spending is more conservative.”
The DetailsU.S. Tour Operators Associationwww.ustoa.com