Avoya claims strong 2021, even after omicron emerged

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Bookings for a number of categories of travel have exceeded 2019 levels, Avoya Travel said, and 2022 is shaping up to be a strong year, especially in the third and fourth quarters.
Bookings for a number of categories of travel have exceeded 2019 levels, Avoya Travel said, and 2022 is shaping up to be a strong year, especially in the third and fourth quarters. Photo Credit: vipman/Shutterstock.com

Bookings for a number of categories of travel have exceeded 2019 levels, Avoya Travel said, and 2022 is shaping up to be a strong year, especially in the third and fourth quarters.

In fact, on Dec. 1, the host agency had a $2 million booking day, according to Ashley Hunter, senior vice president of partnerships. That level of bookings is typically seen around Wave season after Christmas, and it is encouraging to see numbers like that this early, she said.

"Even with some of the new variant news that's come in, we have been pleasantly surprised and excited about how well things are continuing to pace," Hunter said Thursday during a virtual press conference.

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Bookings for the upper premium and luxury segment for September and November were up 30% compared with 2019. Interest in world cruises is up 200% compared with 2019. And the land segment -- consisting of resorts, hotels and escorted tours -- is also up 30% over 2019 levels.

As far as departure trends, Hunter said, the second half of 2022 looks stronger than the first half, up 30% compared with 2019. River and luxury cruises, escorted tours and resorts are leading the pack and outpacing 2019 departures by 30%. The current annual pace for Europe in 2022 is up 30%.

"Again, this is all in relation to what we did in 2019, which was our best year ever," Hunter said.

Avoya is No. 29 on Travel Weekly's 2021 Power List. In 2020, the agency sat at No. 30, with $485 million in 2019 sales.

Co-CEO Jeff Anderson also offered a glimpse beyond 2022. As of Dec. 1, he said, 2023 departures were up 144% versus this same point in 2019. He called the demand for 2023 "huge."

Asked about the impact the omicron variant of Covid-19 has had on Avoya, Anderson said it's too early to tell whether or not it will impact individuals severely. He also pointed out that Avoya's $2 million sales day occurred Wednesday, when the news about omicron had already been circulating for nearly a week.

"We haven't seen the same shock that went through the stock market last Friday," Anderson said. "We have not seen that type of reaction. So I think we're still pretty good, and it may just have to do with the fact that the human connection that drives people is so strong that it may just end up overriding the fears that the mainstream media has been putting out there."

Sam McCully, senior vice president of marketing, said looking at shopping and booking behavior, Avoya's conversion rates are stronger than before news of omicron broke.

"People are just looking past the headlines, and I think we've got a lot of things now to fight Covid and we're seeing that, thankfully, in our data," McCully said.

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