At first sight, the stagnation of intermediary retail value sales in 2017 could be considered disappointing. Admittedly, the ongoing decline in North African destinations continued to impede sales of tour operators. Considered more secure, the North Mediterranean (Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Greece) fared better, but not enough to offset the disaffection for Morocco, Tunisia and, in particular, Egypt, Jordan and, more recently, Turkey. However, most experts felt a slight improvement in 2017: the massive wave of bankruptcies seemed to end as the number of outlets achieved stability after two weak years. Other than the improvement of the local economy and the lesser fear of terrorism, this stabilisation could stem from a more balanced confrontation between pure players and traditional mainstream intermediaries – see below.
Now that traditional travel agencies seem to be better equipped to face the competition from pure players and with consumer confidence returning, the outlook is more optimistic for intermediaries. Overall sales in the category are expected to increase by 2% at constant 2017 prices over the forecast period. The most dynamic category is expected to be intermediaries lodging sales only with a retail value CAGR of 4% at constant 2017 price over the forecast period. The main impetus should come from Booking.com, although the US brand will itself have to face some challenges, such as its dependence on Google, as well as the so-far impressive performance of AirBnb in France. Booking.com and other online travel agencies will have to cope with the counterattack of mainstream operators in hotels, airlines and cruise, which do not want to give an inch more to pure online players. However, Booking.com is now too inescapable to be worried by the hostility of its hotel clients and is already proposing short-term rental options.
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