ABTA Travel Matters conference

Laura, our Agency Director, and Rhodri, our Digital Strategist, recently attended ABTA’s tenth-anniversary Travel Matters conference at One Great George Street in Westminster, central London.

Travel Matters is the travel and tourism industry’s forum for debating the political and policy issues, the conference theme for this year is ‘A Vision for the Next Decade’. Over 200 senior travel and tourism industry representatives attend Travel Matters each year to hear thought-leading commentary on current affairs and the issues affecting travel.

The UK is in the midst of Brexit negotiations which is a pivotal moment. Therefore the conference’s theme this year is ‘a vision for the next decade’ – discussing what they want the industry to look like in 10 years time and what will happen following Brexit.

The conference kicked off with Mark Tanzer, the Chief Executive of ABTA, providing an interesting opening address. Travel and Tourism is one of few sectors that were able to put plans in place ahead of the initial Brexit deadline but made it clear that ABTA doesn’t favour a ‘no deal’ due to the consumer and political uncertainty.

Travel and Tourism account for 5% of the UK workforce, 50/50 gender split and with 27% under 30. 

Mike Cooper, CEO of Eurostar, serve 11.5 million customers each year and stated that people still want to travel despite the uncertainty of Brexit – 75% of their customers aren’t bothered by Brexit. He emphasised the key role technology has as an enabler to support growth and how customers are becoming more concerned about the environment with 64% of customers admitting they would travel with one company over another if they’re more environmentally friendly.

57% of customers expect an experience tailored to their personal preferences – both online and the physical journey

Customers aren’t interested in products, they want experiences. 

Martin Alcock, Director, Travel Trade Consultancy, shared some fantastic insights to the overall state of the Travel industry, ranging from travel operators, the nature of the cruise market, travel distribution and tours and activities.

As we are aware there are almost unlimited options when it comes to selecting your travel operator and holiday provider. As we can see from the image below the travel market is wide and vast, dependent on the type of holiday you are looking, the budget you have, and the experience you are looking to obtain, some operators may be your preferred choice.

As time progresses we see more and more individuals embarking on cruise holidays each year, in the image below we see a healthy incline from 2009 to 2019, with an estimation of 30 million worldwide customers selecting a cruise holiday in 2019. This is a 59% increase over a 10-year time frame and promotes a wide range of opportunities for cruise holiday providers.

Tui, Jet2holidays and Thomas Cook, 3 well known reputable brands amongst the travel industry, all known for their affordable, luxury holidays across multiple countries. Martin in his talk highlighted, each brands distribution and the percentage of holidays they sold directly to travellers:

Martin also looked to the future as he announced an exciting new change coming to the travel market later this year. This being the launch of Easyjet Holidays, they will be focussing on 20 million airline passengers that currently book hotels with partners. We can’t wait to see all that Easyjet Holidays has to offer, along with the impact it will bring to the travel industry, it is suspected that if they convert 25% they will become the UK’s largest tour operator.

The Travel industry has seen lots of changes and investments over the years, with an increase in tours and activities. 

The above brands have truly made their mark within the industry, with both tours and activities continuously growing 7-8% per year.

Gordon Marsden, Shadow Minister for Education, provided an interesting breakdown of the Travel and Tourism industry emphasising that the industry is made up of 70% of micro-businesses and 30% of Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s). As the Travel and Tourism industry continues to grow, we can expect to see more and more jobs opening up with 1.3 million new staff members joining the industry by the year 2024. Out of these 1.3 million staff members that are set to join the Travel and Tourism industry it is reported that 505 of these individuals will be from outside of the EU. This showcases the effect that Brexit will have amongst recruitment in the industry.

With the concerns of Brexit amongst the Travel Industry, we see more and more individuals opting and confirming that they will be holidaying in the UK rather than abroad. From a recent Travelodge report, we can see that 7/10 adults will holiday in the UK this year, providing great opportunities for English based holiday homes, parks and villages. Afterall staycation is the new vacation trend of 2019

Senior Editor of the Economist, Anne McElvoy, brought forth an array of global trends that are said to affect travel. These were listed as followed: 

  • Slow-balisation (slow globalisation) – is making travel so much easier and readily available to everyone, with travel transportation advances, decreases in costs and ease of travel by a click of a button. More than ever before travellers have the opportunity to uncover more of the world. 
  • Chinese middle class – this demographic has grown significantly over the years and it has emerged that they are avid travellers, with their key source of spending being in the travel and tourism industry. This being said a wide range of travel opportunities are being opened up and available to target this demographic.  
  • Linking global to local – with more travellers than ever before, experiencing different countries and cultures, we should be taking advantage of being able to support local entrepreneurs and build new tourism marketplaces.  
  • Climate change – Tourism is both highly vulnerable to climate change but also contributing to it also. As a result of this tourism will face an array of direct and indirect implications of climate change, affecting the way we experience tourism.

In 2019, we are building new foundations for our industry. We are forming new trade agreements, investing in infrastructure and addressing new and existing skills gaps within our workforces. All are building blocks on which to propel ourselves forward, with Europe and globally. This is an opportunity to define our Vision for the Next Decade.  

Once again we would like to give a huge thank you to ABTA’s for inviting the Clicky team to the tenth-anniversary Travel Matters conference, we had a brilliant insightful day. 

Want to know more about Clicky's partnership with ABTA?

We have over 10 years of experience in the UK Travel & Tourism sector & millions of holiday bookings.

ABTA PartnershipClicky & the Travel Industry

Written by Rhodri Lloyd

Digital Strategy Executive

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