Amadeus has revealed the results of a recent online poll among UK business and leisure travel agents looking at how bookings have been affected by the credit crunch, and what is happening to hotel booking patterns in general.The results show an optimistic picture - the majority of both business and leisure agents feel that the credit squeeze did not impact on sales in March. Business agents were more adamant of this fact with 43.9% declaring the crunch did not affect sales. Some 28.6% of leisure agents echoed this. However, 31% of leisure agents did feel the prevailing US economic climate was being felt in the UK. Of those leisure agents who were seeing a downswing, 30.4% said it amounted to a 10-19% fall in sales. Some 31.3% of business agents who registered a chill factor from the US said bookings were down, but only by 5-9%.
Of the leisure agents polled:
* 31% think that the credit crunch impacted on sales in March while 28.6% disagree
* Of the agents who have seen an impact, 30.4% said it was by between 10% and 19%
* However, 35.7%, the majority view, said they thought the outlook over the next three months was unchanged compared to the same period last year
Of the business agents polled:
* 43.9% said the crunch had not affected March business
* Of the 19.5% of them who said sales had been hit, 31.3% said it was only by between 5% and 9%
* The majority, some 24.4%, foresaw no change in business in the next three months compared to last year
The majority of agents, across both sectors, said that they felt bookings over the next three months would be no different to the same period last year, indicating further optimism that the economy would not affect them adversely in the short term. In fact, 23.8% of leisure agents believe bookings will be up by 10%.
For hotel bookings, the message from the agents polled was location, location, location as it was the number one requirement of clients booking through agents, both business and leisure. A close second for leisure agents was value for money with 87.1% saying this is what their clients demanded. Brand came much lower down, with 37.1% saying this was a factor when booking.
GDSs still figure as the predominant booking channel with calling the hotel direct the next most popular method. Viewdata, however, was used to book accommodation by only 12.5% of leisure agents - a sign of the times, with online travel agents clocking more than double that at 28.6%.
As for how agents accessed information on accommodation, GDSs and property websites were equally popular (58.8%). But Web 2.0 is creeping up and a whopping 26.8% said they now used review site such as Trip Advisor to get details on hotels and apartments.
Brochures are seeing a decline in popularity - a resounding 75% said they no longer used them when booking accommodation. But those who did still use them declared their value lay in being easy to access, providing something tangible to the client and detailing T&Cs and deposit details more clearly.
Leisure and business agents believed booking accommodation had got an awful lot easier since their careers had started and put this down to the internet, more properties being loaded onto the GDS and more efficient technology.
Elaine Seeto, Director of Marketing for Amadeus UK and Ireland, said: “It is heartening that confidence remains high among the travel agency community despite the “doom and gloom” of recent headlines. With many travel agents now looking to diversify their revenue streams, Amadeus is responding by developing easier ways to book non-air product. When it comes to hospitality, we’re developing a new business travel tool that greatly simplifies the search process to help consultants rapidly match client needs. And for leisure travel, we are currently market testing Amadeus Holiday Hotels, which links into popular bed bank resort content and will be fully integrated with the Amadeus Selling Platform. When launched later this year, both applications will help travel professionals expand their customer offering and take full advantage of the generous commissions still available from the sale of accommodation.”