More than a quarter of TTG Travel Agent Tracker respondents took bookings for summer 2020 during the week to 26 June (Week 12) as the UK’s outbound travel sector gets ready for a July restart.
Respondents making sales for summer 2020 more than doubled week-on-week from just 11% to 27% during Week 12, with sales for autumn and winter also increasing; some 18.5% of respondents took autumn bookings (up 5%) and 30% winter bookings (up 6.5%).
It comes after the government gave its first firm signal outbound leisure travel will be allowed to resume this month, announcing a traffic light system for destinations while hinting at the UK’s first air bridge agreements.
Week 12 Tracker data reveals 80% of respondents took new holiday enquiries last week, up 4% on Week 11 and up 13% on Week 8 (week ending 29 May). Moreover, 60% of respondents reported a week-on-week increase in enquiries, up from 49% in Week 11 – a record week-on-week increase in enquiries.
It was a positive week for rebounding sales too; respondents reporting having taken a booking or made a sale during Week 12 increased to 64%, up from 58% a week earlier, while nearly half of all respondents said sales increased week-on-week from Week 11 to Week 12. This is up from 36% reporting a week-on-week increase in sales just a fortnight ago.
Respondents reporting no bookings over the past week fell below 30% for the first time since the Tracker was launched in mid-April, down from above 40% a month ago (Week 8).
“We had a really positive week with six new enquiries and three conversions so far," said one respondent. Another added: “Things are looking up. The time wasters seem to have gone. Those enquiring are booking.”
While we await to see the boost from any formal government announcement of the traffic lights system, air bridges, or relaxation of the Foreign Office’s travel advice, it is clear Boris Johnson’s announcement last week giving the domestic travel sector the green light to resume operations from 4 July has had an effect.
Respondents reporting interest from clients in domestic (UK and Ireland) breaks has increased to more than 30% for the first time, while the number of respondents taking domestic bookings more than doubled last week from 9% to 20%.
Meanwhile, it appears the surge in agents returning to the high street in recent weeks has inspired others; 80% of tracker respondents with retail premises said they had either already reopened their shops, or were planning to do so in July.
"We opened up the agency part-time, and it’s been great to see so many customers popping by to show their support," said one respondent, while another added: "Customers love our shop being open. We seem to be providing them reassurance – and we like seeing them all.”
The Week 11 Tracker survey introduced a new field for agents to give an insight into how the crisis was changing the way they work.
Significant changes reported by multiple agents include a shift towards more flexible working practices, including more homeworking; consultations by appointment, whether by video, social media or face-to-face; and sourcing more business from – and completing bookings via – social media.