Will the momentum continue in 2024?

Looking ahead at what’s to come in 2024, Christine James, CTM, Vice President, Canada for Travel Leaders Network, says that she’s ‘cautiously optimistic,’ pointing to the fact that “future booking reports from our key supplier partners all indicate that we’re trending well ahead on what’s on the books compared to same time last year.”

2024 – Is it smooth sailing ahead? … or are there storm clouds on the horizon?

I wish I could predict smooth sailing ahead but I wouldn’t go as far as to forecast storm clouds either. Let’s just say I’m cautiously optimistic. The future booking reports from our key supplier partners all indicate that we’re trending well ahead on what’s on the books compared to same time last year.  However, whether that momentum continues at the current pace, is anyone’s guess.

The economy has been struggling of late …

The economy has been struggling for some time and we’ve been watching closely to see if it’s had a significant impact on both new bookings as well as cancellations, but we’ve haven’t seen any evidence of that yet.

The geopolitical scene is unsettled to say the least … The climate is changing with increasingly destructive events all creating disruptions for the industry …

We surveyed our membership to see if they saw any cancellations as a result of unrest in the Middle East.  What they’ve told us is that clients have been altering their bookings to different destinations but for the most part, not cancelling completely.

Furthermore, we have not seen any noticeable impact on bookings to Caribbean nor Mexico which is really the bread and butter for many of our members.

And now, Artificial Intelligence has arrived … and everyone is wondering what changes will it bring to the travel and tourism business?

Anticipating this would be a hot topic for our industry moving forward, Travel Leaders decided to get in front of this emerging trend as early as last May during our EDGE Conference in Nashville by hosting workshops led by specialists to help our member navigate through some of the complexities.

Last month, we had almost 700 members engage for over 3 hours on our virtual AI Intensive Workshop, led by acclaimed AI trainer Dave Birss.

Subsequent to that we’ve had a lot of members download our 102 comprehensive guide to using AI for travel agencies.  It covers such key areas as crafting detailed prompts, building a persona/personality profile for AI to use when writing for individual advisors, and key cautionary notes, including protecting confidential client data and fact checking.

One of the advisors attending our workshop from TLN Member agency AMT Travel volunteered this: ‘I have already started using what I learned. This was an amazing much needed training.’

Other comments include: ‘This helped me overcome my fear of AI and not I can start using it and Absolutely fabulous presentation.  I learned so much and can’t wait to put it to get use.’

For the travel and tourism industry, ‘there’s always something’ … will 2024 be the year that the industry finally gets back to ‘business as usual’ or are there more challenges ahead? Why? … Or … Why Not?

As far as getting back to ‘business as usual,’ based on our overall sales performance for 2023, we’re already there.

We saw exceptional growth in both the mass market and luxury space, not only in passenger but also in revenue compared to 2019!

What’s your forecast for 2024?

As I mentioned, our on the books business is currently outpacing 2023 numbers.  That said, the assumption is that this will hold barring any major unforeseen global incident that clearly would have an impact on our entire industry.

To sum it up, at this point, I have no reason not to remain on the positive side of the fence as I look forward to the year ahead.

For more, check out Canadian Travel Press’ 2024 Forecast Issue