Wanderlust among Austrians is extremely high following the lengthy period of time most people were forced to spend at home. The 18 SES shopping center-based travel agencies, which are currently benefiting from the high footfall levels at each center, have also confirmed this trend to be true. Travel agencies are one of the industries that have been most severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis. As such, the increase in bookings since June – due to the relaxation of travel restrictions – is all the more encouraging. Relaxed entry rules are of particular importance to customers. As a result, bookings are primarily being made to destinations within Europe – predominantly to Greece, Italy, and Spain, in addition to Austria.
The fact that there is renewed activity in the travel industry is clearly evident – and, in the aftermath of the height of the pandemic, the importance of such activity cannot be overemphasized. On the one hand, people are finally eager to travel again following the long “stay-at-home” period, and, on the other hand, travel agencies are in desperate need of sales. Now that travel restrictions have been eased, life is beginning to return to normal: The 18 travel agencies located at SES shopping destinations have reported increased footfall, numerous inquiries, and a growing number of bookings week after week. In addition to Austria, destinations in Europe that have more relaxed entry regulations, such as Greece, Italy, and Spain, are particularly popular. By contrast, the booking situation for long-distance travel is still rather subdued.
“Like our retail partners who work in the travel industry at our SES centers, we are excited to see an improvement with respect to bookings after such a difficult period. Now that travel restrictions have been eased, people are eager to enjoy the freedom to travel once again. This reality is also reflected in the demand reported by the travel agencies located at our centers,” says Christoph Andexlinger, COO at SES Spar European Shopping Centers, about the current developments.
SES Shopping Centers: Ideal Locations for Travel Agencies
A good location is of great importance to any travel agency. Due to their prime locations and high visitor footfall, SES centers offer the most ideal conditions. Successful cooperation with TUI, RUEFA, Restplatzbörse, and other local and regional travel agencies, such as Herburger Reisen at ZIMBAPARK Bürs or MTOURS at SILLPARK Innsbruck, all prove this to be true.
“Since the re-opening of the gastronomy facilities, in particular, we have recorded very high customer footfall at our shopping centers. Specifically, centers that feature a good segment mix, such as those operated by SES, benefit from having many different types of customers, which is something that we have also noticed at our travel agencies,” said Markus Jurasek, Sales Manager at TUI.
“We also benefit from having regular customers at the centers. People tend to repeatedly shop at the same centers and, as a result, also go to the same travel agencies to book their vacations,” adds Klaus Herburger, chairman of the expert group of travel agencies at the Economic Chamber Vorarlberg and owner of Herburger Reisen at ZIMBAPARK Bürs and MESSEPARK Dornbirn.
Travel Agencies Get Off to a Fresh Start Post COVID-19
“It has been a difficult time for travel agencies. Generally speaking, short-time work and government subsidies have enabled the industry to stay afloat. Very few coronavirus-related bankruptcies have been reported. Larger travel agency chains have closed approximately ten percent of their branches. However, that has less to do with bankruptcy and more to do with restructuring efforts aimed at getting costs under control,” notes Klaus Herburger. None of the centers operated by SES have been affected by such closures. At SILLPARK Innsbruck, a new travel agency, MTOURS, opened in May of this year, taking advantage of the lockdown to build its business.
Change in Travel Behavior
Traveler behavior has changed as a result of the coronavirus. While accommodation in Austria is more likely to be booked independently via online platforms, when it comes to air travel, many people value the personal advice and security that comes with booked travel agency services.