Hays Travel Independence Group trading above 2019 levels

Trading is exceeding pre-pandemic levels for the Hays Travel Independence Group with consumers still keen to book despite the war in the Ukraine.

This year’s Hays Travel IG overseas conference in Tenerife was told commission earned by members in February 2022 was 48% up on the same month in 2019 while sales were up by 36% and passenger numbers up 17%.

This compares with January, when sales were down 1% and passenger numbers were down 7% but commission was up by 5% and margins up by 10%.

The increase in commissions has been helped by enhanced commercial deals negotiated by Hays Travel head office with suppliers, said head of Hays Travel IG Natasha Marson, who said this month’s sales were also looking “healthy” for the group.

“It’s been tough but we are here and we are most certainly turning a corner,” she told delegates.

She said: “Enhanced commercials have helped to increase our margins. March has started really well. While we have the Russia situation, customers are still wanting to go away and still planning to travel.

“There are still people with disposal income who have not gone away and want a bigger and better holiday this year. We are seeing extended families starting to travel and people booking bucket-list trips.”

Chief operating officer Jonathon Woodall-Johnston said commissions already earned by the group for this month up to March 20 were 10% up on the same month in 2019.

Meanwhile, Marson admitted there were challenges members were having to deal with in the current market, including scheduled flight changes, hotel closures and flight cancellations.

Customer expectations of travel agents were also “significantly higher” than pre-pandemic, she said, and customers were looking for “hand holding” in the booking process.

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