Package renaissance 'at OTAs expense' as demand returns

Package renaissance 'at OTAs expense' as demand returns

The travel trade and package holidays had a good summer amid growing confidence the economy is improving, and Monarch Group had "probably its best-ever year".

Monarch tour operations managing director Hugh Morgan (pictured) said yesterday: "The market in package holidays is up 4% this year and we're up 23%."

Morgan told an e-tid briefing at Abta's Travel Convention in Dubrovnik: "We started very strongly and were having an absolutely cracking year before the good weather.

"Demand was not there in July and August, but we're very pleased. We had probably the best year in the history of our company."

However, Morgan suggested some online travel agents had done less well. He said: "I've heard OTAs say 'we're not having a good year'. They could not get stock at the right price."

Expedia UK managing director Andy Washington said: "Two businesses have done well - Expedia and The other OTAs are probably stagnant.

"The weather probably had an impact on tour operator capacity in Europe. Demand switched to domestic and we were able to switch."

Washington agreed with Morgan: "The beach holiday is coming back, whether it is package or dynamic package.

"The challenge this year has been the US - that has been a tough market. Domestic and beach markets have done well."

However, he said: "There is a lot of spin on the data. You have to be careful with industry data."

Research firm Explore Research presented findings from a survey of 340 e-tid readers which suggested an increase in consumer demand for holidays this year. Respondents also reported advance bookings "better than a year ago".

Royal Caribbean UK general manager Jo Rzymowska said: "There is certainly a feeling things are better. We do feel more optimistic."

Others expressed more caution. Morgan said: "It's far too early to say how summer 2014 is going to be. Winter 2013-14 is not going strongly. 2014 could be the year of reckoning."

Washington agreed, saying: "Somebody has to do well and some poorly. We could see some consolidation."

Monarch Airlines customer service and marketing director Tim Williamson suggested this year's hot summer could mean a later-booking market next year, while Holidaysplease chairman John McEwan told the panel: "It's unrealistic to think things will be rosy in 2014."

Andy Cooper, Thomas Cook director of government and external affairs, warned: "World events could destabilise the market."


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