The travel and tourism sector is tackling an extremely tough economic climate. According to our survey of consumer behaviour in 2011, only 18-24 year olds and 55+ consumers are more positive about their holiday plans. International passenger numbers volumes were at 2004 levels as at end of 2011. And bookings in the first quarter of 2012 for Spring have been broadly flat.
Airlines are facing challenges such as the Air Passenger Duty increases , complying with the EU emissions scheme and volatile fuel prices. At the same time, all travel businesses will be looking to formally quantify the their environmental and socieoeconomic footprint.
Against this backdrop is the hot topic of consumer protection. When is a package not a package? And, even more of a conundrum: when is a travel agent not an agent? The change in consumer protection rules has shifted the risk landscape. A recent consumer survey by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) showed that financial protection, ABTA and Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) membership, take three of the top five positions in consumers’ wish list when they book a holiday.
The travel industry is a resilient industry and one that has had to adapt to change and new opportunities and 2012 will be no different. We are witnessing an exciting time in mobile technology that is already fundamentally changing the way consumers research, purchase and share their experiences.
According to Google, about a third of the global travel industry will be online in 2012, while 90% of travel buying decisions by UK consumers are influenced to some degree by online.
Ensuring they stay one step ahead of the digital consumer is essential for survival.
On the Prime Minister’s “wish list” is for Britain to be one of the top five destinations in the world in terms of revenue from inbound tourism (it is currently seventh) and to lift the proportion of what British people spend on holiday in the UK to 50% (it is currently 40%).
To facilitate business travel, Ministers are also committed to building a high-speed rail link between some gateway cities while pledging to confront the lack of airport capacity in the South East of England.
Our travel and tourism group advises its clients on the current challenges – as well as the opportunities – in the travel and tourism sector including changes in strategy, dealing with regulators, managing people costs, restructuring and refinancing debt, security issues, changing consumer trends, tax issues, sustainability and corporate social responsibility as well as risk assurance needs and auditing services.