Post referendum, the question on the lips of everyone working in the travel industry is surely this, what will this mean for both inbound and outbound tourism? Of course, we are heading into unchartered waters- some say without a paddle- and the landscape that will greet us at the other side can’t be 100% predicted by anyone. We are dealing in suppositions and in educated guesses which are never anyone’s first choice when undertaking strategic and tactical planning for their travel brand. Yet plan we must, and here are the key considerations.
In the days following the vote for Brexit, we are already seeing signs of change. The pound has slumped to historic lows and this will undoubtedly affect customer confidence as people consider how their lives may change, how safe their jobs are and travel related issues such as whether they can travel on current passports and if EU regulations to protect travellers still apply, such as the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC gives the holder access to local health services and whether to negotiate to keep the EHIC, or move towards a different system for travellers is just one of many decisions that will need to be made. And as decisions do begin to be made, it is important that travel brands take care to disseminate information clearly and concisely to their customers.
29.3 million Brits took holidays abroad in 2014 with 76% in European destinations; 10.8 million headed to sunny Spain and more than 8.7 million visits were what are known in the industry as VFR’s- visiting friends and relatives- largely made up by those who travel to Europe to visit a second home making the most of cheap flights and short flight durations. Post Brexit and sources suggest that those cheap flights may well be a thing of the past for the UK, with the possibility of fewer scheduled flights available and the price of holidays overall going up in relation to a weakened pound. Of course, people WILL still travel, but with leisure travel often a discretionary spend behind more essential items, how and how often may well change.
The favoured two
The two rules that UK travellers are perhaps best acquainted with relate to their protection when booking a package holiday and their right to compensation for delayed flights- both of which are pieces of EU legislation. It will be down to the UK government to implement UK originated laws that set travellers’ minds at ease when booking package holidays and when taking flights. Swift and decisive action is required to alleviate consumer fears and reduce the impact upon a travel industry that has already suffered a multitude of setbacks in recent months, the health and well-being of travel brands both big and small depends upon it.
Jamie Lee Abtar is The Travel Marketer and founder of Be Distinctly Different, a boutique travel marketing, PR and branding agency. With experience of working with destinations, tourist boards and brands alike, both direct and through the trade, Jamie Lee helps travel and tourism brands to grow, develop and make more money.