2014 will be a year of extraordinary growth for overall travel bookings, with 72 percent of respondents in a recent survey of Ensemble Travel Group members in the U.S. and Canada expecting an increase compared to 2013. 2015 promises an even stronger finish as 84 percent forecast an increase in travel sales when compared to 2014 booking levels, Ensemble reports.
The findings are part of Ensemble Insights, an annual survey, reflecting input from more than 500 Ensemble Travel Group agents, managers, and owners in the U.S. and Canada, representing a cross-section of business models and customer databases. Survey results were announced at Ensemble's Conference in Palm Springs.
“The results also indicate we’ve finally turned the corner and the economic downturn is behind us as nearly two-thirds indicated that business is returning to pre-recession – that is, prior to 2008 – levels based on their 2015 bookings to-date. That’s great news and a long time in coming, ” said Ensemble co-president Libbie Rice.
Ensemble's survey results are in line with the growing consumer demand for more experiential and adventure travel experience, Rice said. When asked to indicate the top three emerging market segments for their agency, survey respondents named “adventure” and “culture/history” as two of their top three choices, with “family/multi-generational vacations as the No. 1 response. Members also ranked the top five “hottest” destinations for their clients in 2015 as: Italy/Sicily, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Spain.
In other survey results:
- In the cruise segment, nearly 66 percent of the respondents expect an increase in overall bookings in 2015 compared to 2014, with the largest growth for ocean cruising expected in the premium and luxury categories, at 44 percent and 40 percent, respectively. River cruises will continue to be hot as 91 percent of the members surveyed expect bookings to increase in 2015.
- In the land segment, 82 percent of members surveyed expect 2015 bookings to be up compared to 2014, with the largest growth reported in FITs at 52 percent, with groups and escorted tours both at 24 percent.
- In the air segment, 56 percent of respondents forecast their air volume to increase in 2015 compared 2014, with the focus of their top three air markets in the year ahead to be Europe, United States, and Asia.
- Travel insurance continues to be important in members’ sales strategy as 68 percent expect an increase in 2015 compared to 2014 bookings.