Strong profits, growing optimism

ASTA reports that most of its member agencies saw stronger revenue and transaction volume in the first half of 2012 as compared to 2011. In a newly released survey, the U.S. travel agency group also discovered that its member agencies expect to see a stronger profit in 2012 and 2013 — with their results returning to pre-2009 profit levels. Nina Meyer, the president and chair of ASTA, said that: “The results of this survey, conducted earlier this summer, indicate that despite a slower than hoped for pace, the travel agency industry is rebounding well and set to recover fully.” And Meyer continued: “Certainly some of this improved economic forecast can be attributed to the fact that consumers, realizing the value that comes in working with a travel agent, are again planning their next trip with the help of a travel professional.” When asked to compare performance for the first half of 2012 to the same time period in 2011, the majority of ASTA members said their performance for revenue (73%), transactions (72%) and client list (75%) was the same or better in 2012 than the first half of 2011. Only about a quarter saw a decrease in revenue, transactions and/or clients. While on par with results from a similar study done in 2011, this year’s results are vastly better than those from 2010 when a third of agencies saw a decrease in performance and from 2009 when four-fifths saw a decrease. And for the first time in several years, the percentage of corporate agencies seeing a decrease in performance was less than leisure agencies. Whereas many corporate agencies reported increased performance for revenue and transactions, most failed to see an increase in their client list, suggesting that the revenue increase is not related to an increased clientele. Instead, their clients increased business travel in the first half of 2012. ASTA’s survey also looked at sales by segment and found that cruise, tour/group, insurance and FIT were the strongest performing segments based on the percentage of agencies reporting increased sales in the first half of 2012. Corporate agencies saw an increase in air sales in the first half of 2012 compared to 2011 and had a significant increase in insurance sales as well during the same period. Agencies are also optimistic regarding future profits: the average profit predicted for 2012 is 9% while 2013 brings an even stronger year with average profits of 10% predicted. Corporate agencies are just as optimistic for 2012 and 2013, predicting 9% profits and 10% profits respectively. Go to the ASTA research page at for more.