The Hays Travel Independence Group has reported a strong peaks, although coronavirus could yet impact performance.
Hays Travel chief executive John Hays told the Hays IG conference that for the period November 2019-mid February sales for members were up 11.7% like for like; profit 11.8%; and passenger numbers 6.8%.
For the same period, long-haul overtook short-haul in terms of gross share.
“Profit is up marginally more than sales, which means margins are holding up really well,” Hays told TTG.
“My presentation was going to be all good news, but I do need to mention coronavirus, which is a shame, because trading is so strong.”
He said he would address the “elephant in the room”.
“Over our 40-year history we’ve had major problems such as the current one, like the 1980s miners’ strike when we were really small; 9/11, when everyone stopped flying for six months; and the 2008-2009 financial crisis and recession,” said Hays.
“My message is there is nothing we can do about it. Let’s concentrate on what we can affect, which is how we run our own businesses – really value every customer and look at efficiencies.
“Our experience has been that after each of those incidents, at the end of it we’ve emerged stronger, because during that period where customers are especially precious, you work every enquiry and really do all the things even better than you did when customers were plentiful.
“What we’re going to do – and I’d advise all our members to do the same – is concentrate on that, and hopefully they’ll emerge stronger afterwards.”
He added: “I don’t know what the impact will be. I’m not going to speculate.
“So far we haven’t really had any increase in cancellations, but it’s very early days.”