Whilst there has been some talk of an economic slowdown in the UK, 71% of UK agents have had a good start to the year and have not experienced any signs of a downturn in business for 2005. This is according to the latest Amadeus snap poll in which more than 300 UK travel agents and industry professionals were surveyed about how the travel industry is doing this year.
For the 29% of agencies who felt business had been negatively impacted in the year to date:
Just over a third (36%) said their travel bookings had declined by less than 5%
The same number (36%) felt that bookings had declined by 6-10%
One fifth (20%) reported business had declined by 11-20%
When asked to look ahead in 2005, UK agents were more cautious. 60% of agents felt that leisure travel would be negatively impacted over the course of the year and 35% felt that business travel would be negatively impacted. However, amongst these respondents, 58% felt that bookings are likely to be impacted by less than 10% and 35% expect a decline in business of between 11-20%.
But the news isn’t all doom an gloom, as well as a positive start to the year, most agents are convinced that people in the UK will continue to travel. Only 2.9% of agents think that the UK public view travel as a luxury with 14.5% sensing that many people within the population look upon travel as a necessity and one of the last things to be sacrificed if disposable income is tight. The remaining 79% of agents felt that most people within the UK view travel as a flexible purchase that is adapted depending on circumstances.
Commenting on the results, Rob Golledge, Amadeus UK’s marketing communications manager said, “Despite media coverage of a softening in the UK economy, most travel professionals responding to our survey felt that although destinations and trip durations may alter, the intent to travel will remain relatively unchanged.
“The flexibility and breadth of product offered by many agents will be key to meeting any potential changes in demand. For example, being equally good at offering short-haul, domestic and short break holidays which can be seen as more affordable in leaner economic times, will help travel agents retain customers in the long term. However, an economic slowdown also challenges travel agents to develop a value proposition to convince consumers that they ‘get more for their money’ through using the services of travel professionals compared to DIY bookings. Those agents able to demonstrate their skill in transforming the public’s hard earned cash into the kind of dreams and adventures that make travel a modern-day necessity will be the winners.”