you love numbers, you will love the print issue of Travel Weekly
because it includes our annual travel industry survey, which
contains many numbers.
speak for themselves and appear to need little or no explanation.
But even simple numbers can mask complex trends, particularly when
they reflect averages, as survey data necessarily must.
Our research, for
example, indicates that the business mix at the average travel
agency is about 67% leisure and about 60% domestic, and that
airline seats account for about 36% of sales at the average
It also shows that
cruise lines and tour operators continue to derive most of their
business from brick-and-mortar travel agencies, whereas hotels and
car rental firms report that the traditional agency channel, on
average, delivers less than 25% of their sales.
These seem to be important
numbers, and our institutional ego will get a lift if industry
people remember and rely on them or quote them as
But on another
level, we have our usual misgivings about averages and the risky
conclusions they sometimes suggest. If the typical agency is
two-thirds leisure, does that mean that theres no future for agents
in business travel? Hardly. And while airline sales account for a
diminishing slice of the pie at the typical agency, we all know
there are retailers who do a lot of air and who do it profitably --
just as there are hoteliers who get considerably more that 25% of
their business from agents, and who are grateful for it.
At bottom, this
special issue of numbers and graphs demonstrates the same thing
that our news reports tell us day in and day out -- that the travel
business is fluid and dynamic, but also broad and deep. Its
products and services are arrayed across a wide spectrum, from
commodity airline seats to unforgettable experiences at the most
rarefied places on earth -- and now outer space. Its marketers and
intermediaries are more varied than ever and are reinventing
themselves faster than our statisticians can count and label
Charts and graphs
and averages are like snapshots. They will never tell the whole
story of this industry or illuminate the whole spectrum, any more
than the U.S. Census can explain what its like to live in America.
But they add to our understanding and serve as a guide to where we
are and where we could be.
And in that sense,
they point the way to possibilities.
Sandals has done the right thing by making
it clear to the travel community and to consumers that same-sex
couples are now welcome. We welcome this development.
As many travel
suppliers have found, it makes good business sense, as a marketing
consultant might put it, to build bridges to this demographic
is the argument for fair treatment, toleration and open-mindedness
-- the very qualities that travelers can acquire by not staying