Aito Travel Insights data ‘different to reality on ground’, say operators

New data showing a consistent rise in consumers’ desire to travel this year and next is not translating into increased sales across the board, according to Aito operators.

Specialist operators were encouraged by the positive results of the Travel Insights report for The Specialist Travel Association (Aito), analysing 12,000 client responses, but noted “some discrepancy” between the figures and current trading.

The survey by customer data and insights company Spike showed a 15% net increase in consumers who were ‘more likely’ to travel this year than last year, and a 15% net increase in those wanting to travel next year.

However, Aito members said only certain sectors of the market are booking strongly, highlighting the family market as particularly slow.

Experience Travel Group managing director Sam Clark said: “It’s great to see the positive data and encouraging that demand is holding up. That said, I’m seeing some discrepancy between the data and our bookings in the first quarter of 2024. The reality on the ground is demand is down year on year, particularly for family bookings. In terms of bookings we are down slightly on 2023.”

He said demand for once-in a-lifetime trips had continued but predicted a potential “lull” after the post-Covid sales boom.

Jim Eite, sales and marketing director at Ramble Worldwide, described a “polarisation of bookings” in the market, adding: “The reality is there are certain products that are performing well. Summer is not as far up as we would like it to be.”

He attributed a strong lates market for driving bookings but also forecast a sales slowdown before bookings pick up to reach similar levels to last year.

Transindus managing director Amrit Singh also noted the late sales trend, with clients no longer booking 12 to 18 months in advance.

“We’ve seen a slight downturn in bookings; we put that down to people only booking three months in advance and much closer to their departure date,” she said.

Sunvil chairman Noel Josephides said the mainstream market and specialists were suffering from a lack of family bookings.

“Business is not booming,” he said, adding: “You can tell the market isn’t hunky-dory by the emphasis on free child places [by larger operators].

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