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One of the rites of fall is the inevitable flood of end-of-the-year reviews and look-ahead forecasts that start popping up in all forms of media. Right on time, ASTA recently released a study entitled “ASTA Agency Sales and Revenue Trends” that looks back on the first half of 2012.
The study revealed a lot of positive news for travel agents. When asked to compare the performance for the first half of 2012 to the same period in 2011, nearly three in four agents said their revenue (73%), transactions (72%) and client list (75%) was the same or better this year. In addition, agencies are optimistic that 2012 will finish with a strong profit of 9 percent, back on par with 2008’s profit levels (8%), and they are forecasting an even higher profit of 10 percent for 2013.
One of the more interesting statistics was what agencies reported as the best-performing travel segments this year. Leading the charge was travel insurance, with more than half of agencies (52%) seeing an increase in sales in 2012. This number is especially pertinent considering the recent passage of a bill in the California legislature that permits agents in that state to offer travel insurance to clients. ASTA said in a press release that the bill “significantly reduces excessive burden on California travel agencies while offering greater transparency for consumers.”
“With the passage of this bill, consumers, travel agents and travel insurance providers are all winners,” said ASTA president and chair Nina Meyer.
One statistic from ASTA’s survey that is somewhat troubling is that the cruise segment was reported as having a significant decrease in sales this year. Nearly one-third (28%) of all agencies reported that their cruise sales decreased in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year. This was second only to air travel sales at 32 percent.
One can only hope that these numbers will be taken as a warning bell and inspire the cruise industry as a whole to renew its commitment to travel agents going forward. In the past, this partnership has benefited all parties, and there is no reason to believe it won’t continue to be profitable.
Overall, however, this snapshot shows a strong rebound by travel agencies and a lot to be excited about going into 2013.