PALM SPRINGS, CA — Ensemble Travel Group members in the U.S. and Canada say 2014 will be a year of extraordinary growth for overall travel bookings with 72% of respondents to a recent survey expecting an increase compared to 2013.
And 2015 promises an even stronger finish as 84% forecast an increase in travel sales when compared to 2014 booking levels.
The findings are part of Ensemble Insights, an annual survey released each year during the organization’s conference that analyzes the sales performance and projections of its North American membership. The 2014-15 Ensemble Insights Survey, conducted in early October, reflects input from more than 500 Ensemble Travel Group agents, managers and owners in the U.S. and Canada, representing a cross-section of business models and customer databases.
“We’re extremely excited to see these strong numbers for both this year and next for our members,” said Ensemble Co-President Libbie Rice. “The results also indicate we’ve finally turned the corner and the economic downturn is behind us as nearly two-thirds indicated that business is returning to pre-recession – that is, prior to 2008 – levels based on their 2015 bookings to-date. That’s great news and a long time in coming.”
The Ensemble Insights survey results are in line with the growing consumer demand for the more experiential and adventure travel experience – a message that was heard throughout the 2014 Ensemble conference. When asked to indicate the top three emerging market segments for their agency, survey respondents named ‘adventure’ and ‘culture/history’ as two of their top three choices, with ‘family/multi-generational vacations’ as the No. 1 response.
Members also ranked the top five ‘hottest’ destinations for their clients in 2015 as: Italy/Sicily, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Spain.
In other survey results:
In the cruise segment, nearly 66% of the respondents expect an increase in overall bookings in 2015 compared to 2014, with the largest growth for ocean cruising expected in the premium and luxury categories, at 44% and 40% respectively. River cruises will continue to be hot as 91% of the members surveyed expect bookings to increase in 2015.
In the land segment, 82% of members surveyed expect 2015 bookings to be up compared to 2014, with the largest growth reported in FITs at 52%, with groups and escorted tours both at 24%.
In the air segment, 56% of respondents forecast their air volume to increase in 2015 compared 2014, with the focus of their top three air markets in the year ahead to be Europe, United States and Asia.
Travel insurance continues to be important in members’ sales strategy as 68% expect an increase in 2015 compared to 2014 bookings.