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Summer Sales 2014: in June it's either make it or break it for tour operators!

Activity in decline during the month of May


The sales for summer 2014 show a slight delay compared to last year. After starting out with a bang, the orders stopped, especially in May - a month punctuated by numerous holidays. June will be a crucial month for tourism professionals. TourMaG.com conducted the survey amongst distributors.



Champion of the summer of 2014 remains Greece, from the general opinion that knows an explosion this summer, whatever the formula - © Jenifoto - Fotolia.com
Champion of the summer of 2014 remains Greece, from the general opinion that knows an explosion this summer, whatever the formula - © Jenifoto - Fotolia.com
Summer sales had started well for travel agencies.

"From January to March, we recorded a monthly increase of 15% of our sales," says Didier Munin CEO of Boiloris.

"During this period, we sold a lot of vacation clubs: Jet tours, Eldorador, Club Med," says Anaïs Malingrey agency chief Jet tours Boiloris Opera.

Since then, sales stall for the distribution network. In the Paris office, current sales include tailor-made trips, dynamic packages, luxury products and cruises.

For his part, Jean Dionnet, head of Tourism Invest has not enough visibility on summer sales. "We have reached 60% of the departure targets in July and 50% in August, he says.

But the phenomenon of last minute sales is growing more and more each year. Just 5 years ago, we realized 50% of sales at the end of April."

For the Prêt-a-Partir Network, "August sells well, but July is worrisome, says François Piot, its CEO.

Tour operators are very concerned and when you see the promotions emerging, we understand that sale objectives are not being met.”

"There is a lot of stock from the period between July 25th to August 10th, a time where prices are multiplied by 4," says Valérie Laroche, commercial director of Selectour Afat network.

"This is a double punishment for the sector, says François Piot. On the one hand, sales are not made, and secondly, the last minute deals offered by agencies do not meet the expectations of customers, who may book their next holiday on the Internet."

May holidays may have affected sales

Suffice to say that the month of June will be crucial for summer sales.

In travel agencies, there was a slight increase at the beginning of the month, which is expected to continue this week with the end of all the holidays.

"The many days off in May and then school holidays have affected sales," says Valérie Laroche.

The Commercial Network Manager of the network also mentioned the World Cup effect, "a phenomenon that occurs every four years, during which customers wait for the results of the French team before booking their holidays."

And then, as emphasized François Piot, "there has been a hardening of the crisis, that begun 5 years ago."

"The month of May also rhymes with the tax return, which can give a blow to the morale of clients, explains Patricia Linot, founder of the tour operator Travel Collection.

With changes in tax brackets this year, it is possible that the holiday budget is lowered."

Significant increase in Tunisia

This slight delay in the summer sales is not catastrophic, but remains a concern, according to Richard Soubielle, vice president and delegate of the Economic Observatory of the National Association of Travel Agents (SNAV).

But not all destinations are suffering.

"On the medium-hauls, Spain, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco and Italy - especially on islands and short stays in the cities of art, are among the top destinations this summer, in terms of the number of passengers, said Richard Soubielle.

A trend that is reflected in the sales of TUI France. "Spain, Sicily, Corsica, Crete and Tunisia - as last minute sales - are at the top as the most desired destinations in the Club Marmara, said a spokesman for the group.

The clientele is very attracted by these so-called "trusted" destinations and reservations are made earlier. The opening of the long stays at MarMalins prices resulted in a 3% sales increase for 14 nights stays compared to 2013."

The Top 3 sales of Nouvelles Frontières is almost identical, with Corsica, Greece (Cyclades) and Italy.

On the long haul, the United States and Canada work very well, while Asia is a little affected by the crisis in Thailand, as the Eastern region with the crisis between Russia and Ukraine" says Richard Soubielle.

The recovery of Tunisia is unanimous in the agencies surveyed, yet sales haven’t yet reached 2010 levels.

But the champion of the summer of 2014 remains Greece, in the general opinion, which knows an explosion this summer in whatever formula.

It sells particularly well thanks to cruises, also a very popular product, whether maritime or river trips.

"River cruises in France, such as amusement parks, spa, golf or detailed à la carte are services to highlight in agencies, advises Valérie Laroche.

You have to be different to give the customer a unique experience and a dream, if we want to sell well."

In the Prêt-à-Partir network, the focus is on the à la carte development, or the start of non-commercial accommodation.

"We reserve rentals on Airbnb or Sejourning explains François Piot.

It does not take a significant portion of our sales, but it is a way to differentiate our product, while offering cheaper and more unusual accommodations than a hotel."

Large orders vs small budgets

Because this is another phenomenon that marks summer orders: the gap between budgets.

"On one hand, it seems that some customers will take last minute decisions, depending on promotions and opportunities, says Jean Dionnet.

And on the other, there is the growing emergence of large orders between €7,000 and €20,000, reserved a long time in advance."

"The average order increased by 5% on summer sales, confirms Valérie Laroche, which is not neutral. But it is especially reservations made by senior customers on conventional bus tour in June or September."

"There is also an important psychological component in the purchase of trips, says Jean Dionnet. Our customers increasingly tend to spread out their reservations.

They prefer leaving 2 or 3 times for 4 days, rather than booking 15 days in a row abroad. This gives them the impression of spending their holidays gradually, but ultimately, they will have spent 3 times €400."

An observation that confirms a recent survey conducted by CPoR Devises and created by Ipsos/Steria in May 2014.

We learn that 34% of French people wait until the last moment to book their summer holidays and that 30% of respondents, 1 022 respondents - often split their vacation time throughout the year.

At the Jet tour Boiloris Opera agency, clients have been returning gradually since early June. Many request à la carte trips to the United States.

Others are already starting to book their Christmas holidays, in the Maldives or Mauritius...

Written by Anaïs BORIOS translated by Joséphine Foucher the 14/06/2014
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