Ruchir Bang, CEO, Stuba
Here we are reflecting on what has been an interesting 2022. No one really knew what it had in store, however, here we are at the beginning of 2023 and look back with optimism.
We had a busy year! We launched our new concept, ‘Curated hotels for travel agents’ which has been wonderfully popular with all of our agents and partners. The feedback has exceeded all of our expectations – so a huge thank you to everyone that has booked.
Our sales, commercial and marketing teams have been busy attending conferences, and trade shows (most recently WTM in London) and are all working to ensure we continue to provide the very best service we can; keep your eyes peeled for more exciting ventures in 2023.
As with a lot of other travel companies, we have been benchmarking sales against 2019, but 2022 was strong and outperformed 2019, so we can happily draw a line on that now! In the first quarter of the year, as uncertainty continued we saw a continued trend from 2021 of more domestic and regional sales, but as the year progressed and confidence in travel grew, this converted to medium and long haul for all markets.
What was hot in 2022?
In terms of sales, we have seen triple-digit growth in North America (USA, Canada, and Mexico) along with island destinations like Greece, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Bali, and Fiji – thanks to our concentrated efforts in contracting the right product there. We have seen a general market appetite to trade up for higher-end products, with 88% of our sales now accounting for 4 and 5* hotels.
UAE continued to sell well, with Umrah travel to Saudi Arabia seeing a strong return throughout 2022. In Asia, Singapore and Bali also saw a good bounce back once they were fully reopened.
Moving into 2023…
Forward sales have been very encouraging, especially in areas that we are well known for including North America, Island destinations and the Mediterranean. Asia Pacific is in strong demand with destinations such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia selling well alongside Singapore and Bali.
We made a significant investment during the pandemic which continues. We’ve automated a lot of back-end systems to improve efficiency for our customers. Our staffing levels are back to pre-pandemic levels and initiatives like guaranteed HCNs, online booking & service management and of course our brand-new curated website (I had to get it in one last time!) puts us in good shape.
Once again, the team at Stuba have worked tirelessly to ensure that our customers are equipped with the tools they need and continue to exceed the high level of customer service that we pride ourselves on.
We are all looking forward to what 2023 and beyond will bring and to waving goodbye to pre-pandemic comparisons!