Last month, Recommend attended the 2013 USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace at The Fairmont Princess Scottsdale in Arizona and if the optimism felt during that conference is any indication, 2014 is going to be a stellar year for the travel industry.
In fact, the numbers speak for themselves. According to the member survey that USTOA conducted last year, it was a rosy 2013—and 2014 looks to be even better. For instance, 89 percent of members saw an increase in business in 2013 over 2012, with two-thirds saying sales went up by 10 percent or more. Along with a growth in sales last year over 2012, 92.2 percent of members also saw an increase in passengers; 60 percent saw numbers grow 10 percent or higher. For 2014, nine in 10 (93.3 percent) of active tour operator members anticipate a growth in sales with nearly two-thirds of members (59.6 percent) “optimistic” and forecasting a “boom year” with growth anywhere from 7 to 10 percent or higher.
One growing market you should definitely keep the pulse on is the family sector (traveling with children under 18). Two-thirds of members stated they saw this market grow in 2013, with 9 percent of members saying the market represented 75 percent or more of their business. And although members cited Italy, the United Kingdom/Britain, China and Peru as the most popular destinations for their clients in 2014, in terms of off-the-beaten-path destinations that members expect to grow in 2014, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia were in the lead. Experiential travel trends, meanwhile, include river cruising, sports travel to events like the World Cup and the Olympics, and faith-based travel.
And of course, the principals at the tour operator companies continue to say that they couldn’t do it without you, the travel agent. According to the survey, for a full quarter of members, travel agents are responsible for 90 percent or more of their business, while more than half (56.8 percent) report that 70 percent and more of their business is booked through a travel agent. And 52 percent of members expect to see an increase in business booked through a travel agent in 2014.
We, too, are optimistic and because of that have highlighted Egypt in this issue, because this is the year we—and the tour operator principals along with the Egyptian Tourism Federation heads we interviewed for the feature on page 106—believe this destination is going to make a comeback. Have clients who prefer to head to cooler climes? Then flip on over to page 108 where we’ve got them covered in the Scandinavia feature. Of course, as noted above, we can’t ignore the river cruise popularity and Uniworld’s Douro River program is, according to what Cruise Editor Vivian Holley writes on page 12, one of the best ways to see this picturesque region. If your clients are looking for a bit more razzle-dazzle, we’ve got a Las Vegas feature on page 114, and a Macau onsite review on page 100.
delta air lines travel guide
Also in this issue, we have the Delta Air Lines’ 2014 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide, filled with up-to-date information on the best place to stay, best cultural and nature-infused experiences, and the “best kept secret” in the gateways Delta serves in these regions. It’s a great planner to have handy as it offers valuable information in a nutshell.
become a CATS—certified anguilla travel specialist
The all-new Anguilla Travel Agent Specialist Program offers information on everything this island offers: from its very elegant accommodations, including some fabulous villas, to restaurant picks, must-sees, festivals and the most important information of all—how to get to Anguilla. Once you look over the course material and take the 20-question exam—available online at edu.recommend.com/anguilla—you’ll be eligible for an array of incentives, including prizes, consumer leads, The Travel Institute and Association of Canadian Travel Agencies credits, and FAM trip opportunities to one of the Caribbean’s most elegant destinations.
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