ASTA Reports Gains In Agency Revenues But Zero Profits for Some

Agents beware! A recent survey on financial benchmarking— in which ASTA asked member agencies to evaluate their 2010 revenue, transactions and client base against their 2009 performance— found that most agencies have seen their revenue rebound or remain the same. But a significant number of agencies expect zero profits, a decline in revenue and loss of clients this year as the agency community faces a tough, competitive market, ASTA reports.

“It is clear that improved performance data for the first quarter of 2010 is partially due to the weakness of 2009 revenue and transactions,” said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair. “Expectations were that 2010 would be a much stronger year than it has been. Some agencies remain confident that 2010 will finish well and are expecting profits in excess of 10 percent, although a significant percentage expect to make zero profit in 2010. The agency’s business model can play a large role in success in this tight market. ASTA provides many tools and research to assist agencies in reviewing and updating their business model.”

The results are obviously much stronger than those found this time last year when the same question was asked comparing 2009 and 2008 revenue and transactions, ASTA says.

The majority of agencies have seen either an increase in revenue or seen revenue remain the same when comparing first quarter 2010 with first quarter 2009. More than one-third are still seeing decreases even when compared with a weak year like 2009.

*    36 percent of agencies saw a decrease in revenue, 17 percent said revenue has remained the same, and 47 percent have seen an increase in revenue
*    36 percent of agencies saw a decrease in transactions, 19 percent said transactions have remained the same, and 45 percent have seen an increase in transactions
*    29 percent of agencies saw a decrease in the number of clients, 32 percent said number of clients has remained the same, and 38 percent have seen an increase in number of clients

ASTA says that, when looking only at corporate travel agencies, most agencies reported their revenue and transactions increased in the first quarter of 2010 over 2009. When compared to all agencies, corporate travel agencies have seen a larger increase in revenue or transactions. In the 2009 survey, they suffered the largest decreases and while they are looking stronger in 2010, they have the most to recover.

*    42 percent of corporate travel agencies saw a decrease in revenue, 8 percent said revenue has remained the same, and 54 percent have seen an increase in revenue
*    42 percent of corporate travel agencies saw a decrease in transactions, 8 percent said transactions have remained the same, and 50 percent have seen an increase in transactions

Comparing the results in 2010 versus 2009 for the percentage of agencies saying they have seen decreases in revenue and transactions clearly shows an improvement. The positive results are dampened considering 2010 performance is being compared to 2009, a very weak performance year.

In 2009, 73 percent of agencies reported a decrease in revenue and transactions in the first quarter when compared to the first quarter of 2008. In 2010, the percentage of agencies seeing a decrease in revenue and transactions dropped to 36 percent. For corporate travel agencies, the percentage that saw a decrease in each of these categories in 2009 was 92 percent compared to 42 percent in 2010.

Some agents were very positive when asked to estimate their profits for 2010, while 13 percent expect to make zero profits in 2010. Agents were more positive in 2011 suggesting an average profit of 11 percent when measured as a percentage of total revenue.

*    In 2009, agencies reported, on average, a 7 percent profit measured as a percentage of revenue. The most common answer given by responding agencies was 0 percent
*    In 2010, agencies projected an average profit of 9 percent
*    In 2011, agencies are forecasting an average profit of 10 percent

The survey was conducted in June 2010 using ASTA’s Research Family, a research panel comprised of a representative sample of ASTA agencies. The full 2010 Financial Benchmarking Report will be available later this year. For more detail, contact Melissa Teates, ASTA’s director of research, as [email protected].

Visit www.ASTA.org.

 

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