The recovery is here and there. As travel restrictions are lifted and the covid-19 pandemic seems to be receding, activity among tourism professionals is picking up. “We are filling up with reservations, and it feels good“, launches Axel Mazerolles, general manager of FTI Voyages on the set of the Ateliers IFTM. “The French need to escape from travelling. We are on levels higher by 20% to 30% compared to 2019.“An observation shared by Christophe Jacquet, Managing Director of Havas Voyages: “sales have been exceptional since the beginning of April with an increase of 30% compared to 2019. It’s encouraging for morale after 2 complicated years”.
Even his bell on the side of Emilie Dumont general manager of Misterfly. After achieving a record financial year in 2019 with €545 million in sales, the specialist in the sale of flights and hotels is also showing higher levels than in the pre-covid era.
“We have always resumed whenever the epidemic subsided. What is different is that we are on a recovery that is consolidating month after month and with growth compared to 2019. Two products stand out: hotels and car rental reservations, which are growing faster.”
Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal in the lead
In France, the outlook is also positive. Antony Demel, Deputy Director General of CRT Nouvelle-Aquitaine confirms this: “We are recording a 60% increase in reservations compared to last year. As a reminder, in 2021 New Aquitaine was the first region in France in number of nights in collective accommodation”.
If France is going to have a good year, other destinations will do well. Among outgoing specialists, the recovery is concentrated on the best-selling medium-haul destinations: Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
At FTI Voyages, Egypt and Turkey are also among the TOPs. On the side of Havas Voyages, France is also “getting settled” among the destinations that matter. In the novelties, all also note a real strong comeback from Morocco, and a comeback from Tunisia.
On the long haul, it’s North America which picks up colors. “The USA very quickly returned to the Top 5” says Christophe Jacquet. “On long-haul except for Asia, the Indian Ocean has been a hit over its last 3 months and Polynesia is at levels three times higher than 2019.”
The Dominican Republic and Dubai also remain safe bets at FTI Voyages.
“And we’re starting to see Thailand coming back, and Indonesia coming back into the TOP 20 or approaching TOP 20. But it won’t be asia summer yet“Adds in turn Emilie Dumont of Misterfly. “Long-haul destinations took 6 months to stabilize once they were open, so that’s good news for the winter.”
A return of traditional agencies
Also in the good news section, the agencies have picked up new customers: “40% of new customers come from the web. There is a repolarization taking place on the notion of service” explains the managing director of Havas Voyages. A rise in power of traditional distribution that the general manager of Misterfly also notes: “Web tourism is a hit, it’s true. At the start of the year, the recovery was stronger for our customers who have an internet storefront.
But since April, we have seen a return to agency networks, 4000 agencies are currently active on Misterfly with very high conversion rates. The feedback from the networks is very strong”.
Another trend: the average basket is climbing. “The budget per traveler has increased by 30-35%.” specifies the managing director of Havas Voyages.
“In the short term there is a boom in reservations and people are paying the price, we too are seeing an average basket that is rising by 20 to 30%” continues Axel Mazerolles. A trend that can also be found at Evaneos. In a statement, the agency announces an increase in the average basket, rising from €4,987 in 2021 to €7,144 for the summer of 2022.
Green lights but fears
If the lights are green for this summer, a shadow hangs over this upturn: that of the lack of staff. This is particularly true in the hotel and catering industry. “It’s very complicated 60% of professionals in New Aquitaine are having difficulty recruiting for this summer. These difficulties are concentrated on qualified personnel. We also have housing issues for seasonal workers“, specifies Antony Demel, of CRT Nouvelle Aquitaine. A lack of human resources, which also raises fears of chaos in airports. “We advise our customers to go to the airport 4 hours before the departure of the flight, even on the medium-haul and we are not at the height of the season. We advise a lot of caution, some passengers had to wait two hours to pass the security checks” explains the general manager of Misterfly. As for the distribution, Christophe Jacquet wants to be reassuring: “Integrated and franchised, we have 700 employees who advise our clients at Havas Voyages today and we are short of about thirty people. There are also people who come back. The good news is also to have new employees rather experts who bring dynamism and new blood, but that does not prevent us from re-evangelizing this profession. We need it, we must make this profession noble. We must reinvent the way of serving our customers to make us attractive”.
Concerns about the post-high season
Despite the optimism displayed, caution remains in order for the post-high season. Return of the pandemic in the fall, stalemate in the conflict in Ukraine and inflation raise many uncertainties. “Currently reservations are focused on the pre-summer and the summer season. We have very little visibility on the after. We are at 10% reservations after high season. We will have to observe all this very closely. Ukraine is a subject that concerns me, we are cautious about the sequence of events.” analyzes Axel Mazerolles who adds that the absence of Russians and Ukrainians in certain destinations makes it possible to recover stock. A booking rate after the summer season which is similar at Misterfly: “We don’t know what will happen. we will take the market, the health and geopolitical context as it will come. If I put car rental aside, which is experiencing incredible increases, we are on an increase of 10 to 11% in the airline and hotel sectors. If the price of the barrel continues to climb, what will be the consequences on household budgets? asks Emilie Dumont. Christophe Jacquet prefers to remain optimistic: “We are no longer in a yoyo effect. On inflation in general, it is the yield that has hurt our industry, that prices are rising again, it is somehow a good thing for our profession , and perhaps also for sustainable tourism.”
If the recovery is there and there, no one can predict what the activity will be once the high season is over…
Posted by Celine Eymery
Chief Editor – TourMaG.com
See all articles by Céline Eymery