The boss of Hays Travel remains upbeat about the opportunities for 2024 after revealing the group doubled its transaction value and tripled profit for the fiscal year 2022-23 compared to 2021-22.
The UK’s largest independent travel agency had returned to profit in 2021-22 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, with a profit before tax of £14.35 million from its operations in high street retail, online service centres, homeworking, franchise, foreign exchange and its Independence Group. The group had also reached a transaction value of £1.07 billion in 2021-22, for the 12 months ended April 30, 2022.
The doubling of turnover and tripling of profit was revealed by chair Dame Irene Hays, speaking at the Hays Travel retail conference in the Algarve, Portugal, on Tuesday (November 14).
“Our balance sheet is incredible, we have no debt,” she told delegates.
Pointing to positive research from PwC, she said there is still an untapped market of travellers who have not yet booked a holiday – and those who are travelling are still prioritising their expenditure on leisure holidays.
She said research showed about 70% of consumers intend to spend more or the same on holidays next year as they did this year and pointed out the opportunity to convert sales from the remaining 30%.
“Across all the segments we serve, there is a huge appetite for travel,” she added.
She noted pressures such as high inflation, political uncertainty and the fact that some pent-up post-Covid demand may be “unwound” but pointed to the fact that consumers are prioritising spending on holidays and the cost-of-living pressures are easing.
Furthermore, as Hays Travel ‘bounced back’ from the pandemic, it had seen that up to 53% of customers were new to the company. Last week, it was seeing as many as 36% of customers who are new to Hays Travel, she added.
She pointed to services such as direct debits which will help customers spread their payments and make it easier to afford a holiday.
And customers are still seeking the support of agents for more complex bookings as “people want to work with a human being”, she said.