The divide between small and large ATOL holders is growing

TTG Media covered Martin Alcock’s session at ABTA’s Travel Matters conference. Read the full article.

06 Dec, 2022 Updated 08 Jun, 2023
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Leading ATOL specialist warns of an increasingly polarised landscape

The divide between small and large Atol holders has grown significantly following the pandemic, with a leading Atol specialist warning of an increasingly “polarised” landscape – albeit one agents could capitalise on.

Martin Alcock, director of the Travel Trade Consultancy, told Abta’s Travel Matters seminar on Tuesday (6 December) the top 20 Atol holders grew their authorisations by around 11%, on average, compared with 2019 levels at the latest round of renewals in October.

During the same renewal window, Atol authorisations among those outside the top 20 fell by an average of 28% compared with 2019 levels.

Alcock told delegates it was symptomatic of consolidation in the package market, with the top 10 package organisers in the UK now holding 75% of the market. There are also nearly 14% fewer Atol holders now (1,567) compared with October 2019 (1,814), he told delegates.

Record profits for the likes of Ryanair, Expedia and Airbnb underlined this trend, he said.

Booking late could create a “halo effect” for smaller businesses

However, Alcock stressed efforts by larger travel sellers and operators to bring forward the peaks booking curve by leveraging the likely impact of inflation on booking late could create a “halo effect” for smaller businesses, particularly with many larger firms investing in major advertising campaigns – such as TV slots during the World Cup – earlier than they would usually.

“It’s almost like travel industry alchemy,”

he said, suggesting some firms were “playing on fear” of what’s down the road if people don’t book now.

He warned smaller businesses risked missing out on some of these earlier bookings if they’re not prepared to go with the flow of bookings during what is traditionally a quieter period in the lead up to Christmas and new year.

View this article in full via TTG.

If you would like to discuss any of the topics Martin commented on, please get in touch.

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