Exclusive: Travel Advisors Report Mixed Signals on State of Industry

Coming off a banner year in 2023, things are looking a little less certain for travel agencies in 2024. As discovered in our Q1 2024 “Travel Trends & Advisor Insight Report,” which surveyed 715 travel advisors April 1-15, the number of respondents who said they were more optimistic about their businesses and the industry when compared to the previous quarter decreased since that last survey.

Beyond this decrease of advisors who said they more positive than the previous quarter (from 67 to 46 percent), the number of advisors who reported increased sales for the quarter compared to the same period the year prior was also lower versus previous surveys. Among those with higher sales, the plurality (40 percent) said their sales were up 16 to 30 percent—which falls in line with previous surveys. However, just 28 percent of advisors reported that their sales were up 31 percent or more versus the same period last year—a big drop-off from the 39 percent who said so last quarter and the 33 percent from the quarter before.

That said, there are some positives. More than one-third of travel advisors (37 percent) have clients currently booked for trips more than one year out. A similar fraction have clients booked for trips in six months to a year from now. In addition, the plurality of respondents (41 percent) said their clients were traveling for seven to nine nights on average. The next most common response was four to six nights (35 percent). As for budgets, the majority of advisors (60 percent) said they are about the same as last year, while more than one quarter (28 percent) said that budgets have increased.

So, there’s certainly some mixed signals, but there’s a lot of 2024 left for the industry to have a strong finish to the year. That all said, a full rebound to 2019 levels of travel will likely have to wait until 2025.

As far as the top trends, advisors reported an increase in multi-generational travel, LGBTQ+ travel, sober travel, more seniors/retirees traveling, an increase in smaller/expedition cruises, an increased interest in Japan (and continued interest in Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean), women groups, wellness experiences and more. Advisors said their biggest challenges for 2024 are continued rising prices, global instability, keeping up with demand, loyalty program changes and more.

To download the full report, visit www.travelagentcentral.com/travel-trends-advisor-insight-report-q1-2024.

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