Travel Agency Groups Report Record Wave Seasons
Travel agency groups are reporting record Wave Seasons with bookings exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
“We are thrilled to see an incredibly strong WAVE season in 2023,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and founder of Cruise Planners. “January was so strong that we saw a 70% increase in sales over January 2019 and February is proving to be just as strong with a 53% increase over February 2019 results.”
“February has continued to be a record-breaking month for Dream Vacations/CruiseOne,” echoed Drew Daly, senior vice president and general manager for Dream Vacations and CruiseOne. “In terms of performance and our expectations based on inventory, capacity and our booking window – January and February came in, in line with our projections and high expectations.”
Travel Leaders is seeing much the same, according to John Lovell, president of the Travel Leaders Group division of Internova Travel Group.
“As our cruise line partners have reported, it’s been a great Wave Season and one of the best we’ve seen. Travel Leaders Network, as well as our wholly owned locations, have been experiencing strong week over week sales throughout Wave Season, consistently surpassing the same points in 2019.”
High Expectations for March
Everyone TMR spoke to told us the same thing: March is expected to be as good as the first two months of Wave.
“We expect the ‘wave’ to continue based on what we are hearing from our cruise and land partners and what our agents are saying in terms of what they are seeing from their customers,” Daly said.
Fee and Lovell agreed.
“With the high level of demand and the volume of marketing that we have scheduled, we expect this strong double-digit growth to continue through March as well,” Fee said. “In fact, Cruise Planners has already surpassed our full year 2019 departures by 13% and we still have 10 months to go in the year.”
“The strong booking pace is across all segments of cruising,” Lovell said. “We’ve not experienced a slowdown in volume and have every expectation that this will continue throughout the remainder of Wave Season and beyond.”
It’s not only the agency groups that are reporting high expectations.
“Wave season has been back in full swing,” said Penny Rushing, owner of Four Points Travel, an independent agency in the Avoya Travel Network. “January was not very busy for me, but February and, so far, March, has made up for it. I expect March to be very busy, if not into April and May too.”
2024 Trending Up Already
According to Fee, one out of every three bookings over the past two months have been for 2024 departures, signaling that next year has the potential to be another record-breaking year.
Dream Vacations/CruiseOne is also seeing strong interest in bookings for next year. “We are seeing sold booking growth overall for 2023 and 2024 across the board… As we look at 2024, the booking trends are greater than what we saw at the same time in 2019.”
“2024 is shaping up beautifully as well,” Lovell added. “Early deployment releases and strong consumer demand has helped to fuel future year business.”
Rushing, who said about 10% of her current bookings are for 2024, added she also has clients that are ready to book in to 2025 and are just waiting for pricing to be available.