The share of cruise bookings made by travel agents took a hit during the pandemic but is projected to bounce back to near pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
The report, “U.S. Cruise Market Report 2022-2026,” by Phocuswright, found agents’ share of gross cruise booking fell to 52% in 2021 from 70% in 2019. But the channel’s share is in recovery, climbing to 59% last year. Phocuswright projects it to reach 71% by 2026.
- Related: Cruise industry recovery projected to run through 2023
Intermediaries and online travel agencies also saw their gross booking share decrease during the pandemic, falling to 6% last year from 9% in 2019. The report projects its share will also yo-yo back, to 9% by 2026.
Cruise line executives have said during the pandemic that direct bookings strengthened as more people became comfortable making purchases online. The report backs that up: direct online sales to suppliers grew to 15% in 2022 from 10% in 2019.
- Cruise insight: Direct bookings rise, but cruise lines want agent business (March 2022)
The reservation and call center channel is also up. That channel nearly doubled during the pandemic, to 20% last year, up from 11% in 2019. But the report suggests that the share for direct online sales and reservation and call centers will resemble pre-pandemic levels by 2026.
(Phocuswright is owned by Northstar Travel Group, Travel Weekly’s parent company.)
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