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Mapping travel’s new normal

New Sabre survey highlights degree of optimism across the travel ecosystem

A key result emanating from a new Sabre survey shows two-thirds of the 500-plus international airline and travel agency decision-makers canvassed believe travel will fully return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024.

However, a third of those taking part do not expect this to happen until 2025.

Interestingly, the survey results indicated that ‘revenge travel’, the objective of making up for lost time, is a meaningful phenomenon with 68 percent of travel leaders responding that they are forecasting a higher spend from consumers on their future travel plans.

Other key findings showed that travellers are considering more decision factors than ever before committing to a trip, with 82 percent of airlines executives surveyed responding they expect the combination of business and leisure to be even more prominent post-recovery.

And more than half of agencies surveyed responded they are spending more time now looking into new tools, services and technologies, this a particular area of focus in APAC for 71 percent of responding agencies;  

A very high 92 percent of travel agencies indicated they want the support of travel technology partners to create a more seamless experience in terms of shopping, booking and fulfilment, while 89 percent responded that they want useful tools to personalize travel.  

Of those airlines surveyed, 96 percent responded they expect enhanced possibilities to offer growth opportunities and improved customer service and satisfaction scores.

Commissioned by Sabre, and carried out by Munich-based management consultancy Dr Fried & Partners, the study involved both quantitative and qualitative research with 500-plus decision-makers from airlines and travel agencies with respondents surveyed in eight languages across 20 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Asia-Pacific and the Americas, along with in-depth interviews with selected industry leaders.  

Sabre Senior Vice President Airline Global Sales and Accounts, Darren Rickey said one key thing that struck the company as it was carrying out the survey was the unprecedented pace of change in the past few months.

“This of course presents an enormous opportunity, but it also puts strains on travel businesses who must adapt their plans, processes and operations to address these potential changes,” she said.

Other key trends identified by surveyed agencies in the new Sabre research include the importance of organized and connected trips to cut through travel complexities for customers, the ongoing prominence of domestic and regional travel and the challenges (and opportunities) for business travel recovery.  

Meanwhile, major trends identified for airlines participating in the survey include increasing consumer bookings protection, the growth of ‘bleisure’ as a catalyst for potential corporate travel recovery and the need to offer more sustainable flight options to meet customer demand.  

The survey also indicated that airlines are also focused on increasing domestic and regional routes as well as looking at how new product formats such as organized and connected trips can help optimise recovery opportunities while creating increasingly personalised experiences for travellers.    

Sabre Senior Vice President Global Agency Sales and Corporate Solutions, Andy Finkelstein said the research has highlighted a degree of optimism across the travel ecosystem.

“However, it also suggested that not all travel leaders may be ready for these potential changes if they happen quickly,” he said. 

“The survey indicates that there is a clear need for agility, transformation and collaboration so that travel agencies, airlines and other industry players can ensure they are in a position to identify these changes, strategize for future growth opportunities and improve the experience for the traveller.”  


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