Travel agencies

In 2018, our travel agencies recorded their most successful business year in the company’s history. Revenues grew by 8.3% to €331.9 million. With 107 branches and a market share of around 22%, Ruefa is the leading travel agency chain in Austria and generates the lion’s share of travel agency revenues within the Verkehrsbüro Group. These encouraging results are down to the intensive focus on the brand in recent years, on the one hand, and, on the other, the fact that travel agencies are still far from outdated even in the age of digitalization.

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The primary success factor of Ruefa is the comprehensive expertise and highly-qualified advice provided by over 500 personnel located throughout Austria. Given the increasingly turbulent environment and complex travel requests, growing numbers of Austrians appreciate the top-quality advice and support offered – both before and during bookings, and extending until well after their return.

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€ million revenues

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Travelers

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Personnel

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Branches

Diverse search, booking and travel channels

Travel agencies have regained their status. Although research is now often done online, bookings are nonetheless made in a travel agency. On the one hand, customers appreciate the competency of our personnel when it comes to providing advice and, on the other, booking in a travel agency is associated with lower risks (cybercrime, support in the case of problems, etc.). Ruefa has over 500 travel experts who know the world inside out. This expertise can be made available to our clients both online and offline.

Investments and expansion

2018 was marked by a clear commitment to retail sales. For example, the sales organization of the Ruefa travel agencies was completely restructured. The aim here is to relieve personnel in travel agencies of time-consuming administrative tasks to make it possible to further improve productivity. Around €700,000 was also invested in branch refurbishments last year. Besides this, we are also working on expanding our range of digital services. These include the development of the Ruefa chat bot, which in future can be used to provide advice via mobile devices around the clock. The website www.ruefa.at will in future provide a perfect combination of online and offline features, relying on a smart system which is nonetheless easy and intuitive to use: clients will have access to the top travel advisers throughout the whole of Austria as their direct contact person for the relevant travel destination.

Targets and milestones

The current strategy is already being reflected in hard facts. Revenues initially generated online at Ruefa rose from 12 to 15% in 2018. Our quality and service standards apply to all sales channels. Customer satisfaction in 2018 reached a very impressive 94%. We received no fewer than two awards from the Austrian Society for Consumer Studies: Ruefa now has seals of excellence as a champion in the industry and an overall customer champion for 2018. In terms of market share, our target is to consolidate our market leadership in Austria and to increase our market share in the direction of 25% in the midterm.

Trends in the travel industry

Travelers sense an increasing need for security. This is the reason why classic package tours are once again rising in popularity. Ruefa is widely perceived and appreciated as a large, professional provider which deals with any problems which arise. At the same time, we are also experiencing increasing demand for high-end travel products which are tailor-made to fit travelers’ individual wishes. Another discernible trend is in the direction of long-term vacation planning. An increasing number of booking inquiries are being seen immediately after the end of the vacation.

“Retail sales and the online world are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary: online research and booking trips in a Ruefa travel agency complement each other perfectly and are in line with clients’ requirements for comprehensive information, security and high-quality advice.”

Helga Freund
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