Avoya asked top producing Independent Agencies in its network to forecast sales and booking trends.
Up from last year's 80% forecast
As a comparison, in last year’s survey over 80% of the respondents predicted 2018 wave sales would be the same or better. This 2018 forecast was spot-on as the 2019 survey confirmed more than 80% of participants reported same or better results for the 2018 wave.
Innovative ships, consumer confidence
The most common reasons given by Independent Agencies for why 2019 wave sales will be even better included the continuation of a great 2018 wave season and strong sales throughout this year. Increased inventory with new itineraries and innovative ships, such as AmaWaterways' AmaMagna, Celebrity Edge and Carnival Panorama, and continued buzz for Norwegian Bliss and the Norwegian Joy refurbishment were also cited.
As well, the Independent Agencies pointed to the strong economy and low unemployment as driving consumer confidence and spending. They also pointed to the retirement of many baby boomers who want to and can afford to travel. And Individual Independent Agencies said they feel better prepared and organized going into this wave season.
'In 2019 I have a better plan in place to maximize my time and really make the most of the busy season,' said Maree Corrone of Oceans To Outback Travel when explaining why she predicts sales will increase. Abundant Journeys, LLC’s RaShonda Gibson added: 'With the help of Avoya’s Mastermind Program, I have better focus and the ability to handle more business during wave and all of 2019.'
Both Corrone and Gibson are members of the Avoya Mastermind program and their sentiment was a popular response among surveyed Independent Agencies. Many credited the Avoya Mastermind Academies and Avoya’s other optional professional development programs for their businesses' improved sales.
'A lot of people are retiring with disposable income and travel is on the top of the to-do list,' said Badonna Birdsong of Badonna's Travel World, LLC. Alice Rivera with AVR Cruises and Tours LLC added: 'There is a bigger interest in upscale cruises that I didn’t see last year. I think that more baby boomers are traveling, and the cruise lines are catering to these new and repeat guests with new experiences, itineraries and ships.'
Upper premium, luxury, river in demand
Most Independent Agencies Avoya surveyed foresee growth along all product segments of the leisure travel industry. In particular, the upper premium and luxury cruise market and river cruises are projected to do exceedingly well, with over 70% of respondents expecting sales increases in those categories during wave season. Growth is also forecast for ocean cruises and mass market and premium markets.
The top three destinations Independent Agencies expect to be best sellers during wave season are Europe, which garnered 80% of responses, followed by Alaska and the Caribbean. Avoya’s new investment in expanding its resorts portfolio and partnership with The Mark Travel Corp. are projected to drive more sales in the Caribbean as well as Mexico for the network. In addition, AmaWaterways’ innovative double-wide AmaMagna is expected to be a game-changer in Europe and new cruise capacity on the West Coast and in the Caribbean is driving anticipated growth.
'Avoya Travel is looking forward to a great 2019 wave season and supporting the growing number of Independent Agencies in the Avoya Network to increase sales, connect with more travelers, and plan more vacations at great values than ever before,' EVP Jeff Anderson said. 'There are many new advancements to be excited about for 2019 that we expect will benefit travel professionals and drive demand from customers in all travel segments, from Avoya Travel’s expansion into resorts and continued investment in growing its travel platform to more West Coast cruise capacity, the impressive recovery in the Caribbean, innovative new ships and so much more.'
When asked which resources contributed most to their wave sales growth and success, more than 80% of Independent Agencies singled out Avoya Live Leads, a program that offers new customers exclusively to their business. Avoya’s patented Agent Power technology and exclusive group space on hundreds of sailings were also among the top three resources credited for driving the network’s sales success.