Agent bookings for Atas members worth ‘substantially’ more than direct

Bookings made by travel agents are “substantially” higher in value than those made direct with members of the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas).

The average booking value for trade sales in 2023 was £3,820, while those made directly by consumers were £2,660 – a different of 43%, said Claire Brighton, Atas director.

The figures came from a data project with Atas suppliers, produced in partnership with Radar.

Brighton unveiled the research findings at the Atas conference which took place in Liverpool (October 10-11).

She also pointed out that the average commission earning per booking was about £750-£800.

Zina Bencheikh, Atas chair and EMEA managing director at Intrepid Travel – speaking via video from Morocco – said sales were up 23% on 2022, with the number of bookings up 20% and passenger carryings up 15%.

Other research findings showed how January and February are key booking months for touring and adventure clients, so Brighton urged agents to factor that into their marketing campaign calendar.

Shoulder seasons are “key” too, she added, as the top touring months are September, October and May.

Almost one third (31%) of sales are for European destinations, with agents taking a bigger share of the market over the past year.

Asia has rebounded, “easily surpassing” 2022 levels and heading towards pre-Covid levels.

South and Central America are “well ahead” of 2022, despite challenges in Peru, Brighton noted. North America is looking “really strong” while Africa volumes have exceeded 2022.

The “hot list” for 2023 showed Italy is the top destination by departure numbers, followed by the US, Vietnam, Canada, Costa Rica, Norway, Thailand, India, Peru and South Africa.

However, the list shows some changes for 2024, with South Africa rising to the top, followed by the US, Italy, India, Canada, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Japan, Kenya and Antarctica.

The “hot list” will be updated on a quarterly basis to help guide agents about the most popular destinations.

Just over half (55%) of bookings were for couples, with solo travellers accounting for 38% of sales.

“Solo travel is seeing really strong growth in all age groups,” added Brighton.

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