The Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), the airline-owned settlement service, will begin releasing, on a regular basis, monthly numbers for online travel agency and travel management company sales.
ARC has traditionally released monthly stats on travel agency sales, including the dollar amounts, numbers of transactions and a breakdown of things like domestic and international fares.
For example, total travel agency sales remitted through ARC in November 2009 increased 6.72% to $5.1 billion, compared with the previous November, and this was the first monthly uptick of the year.
ARC spokesman Allan Mutén says beginning with the December stats, ARC regularly will release percentage change charts for the OTA and TMC channels.
The December 2009 numbers for OTAs and TMCs probably will be available around Jan. 20, or around a week after ARC's regular publication of its Sales & Document Statistics. The OTA and TMC numbers will be available to anyone who has signed up for statistics notifications here.
However, unlike the figures it releases monthly on overall travel agency sales, ARC will only release percentage change charts for OTAs and TMCs, and won't publish the actual dollar numbers.
Mutén says ARC won't release the dollar figures for OTAs "because the OTA population is so small in number (if huge in market share) that they would be too revealing."
Still, the percentage change charts will provide some visibility into OTA and TMC trends sooner than is customary.
For example, for the public OTAs, it is customary to have to await earnings releases in April or May to see how their first quarter air business trended.
The ARC stats, however, may provide a hint of how the OTAs' air volumes are doing much earlier than the earnings press releases because January percentage changes would be available in February, and the February numbers would be published in late March etc.
It will also be interesting to see on a monthly basis how corporate travel stands up to the overall volumes of the travel agency channel, including leisure travel.
ARC decided to release the OTA and TMC numbers regularly, at least in part, because of journalists' requests.