Life was never meant to be like this; people work hard for 50 weeks of the year, hoping to enjoy that precious 2 weeks away from all the stresses and strains of the grind of daily life.
As Consumer commentators, our class are very good at delivering the gloss of travel; a required oasis in the storms ahead. However, there is also a need for us to use our skill-set and knowledge to try and set out key issues that Consumers should be aware of in the world of travel.
This is important because, for those who can afford it, Travel or Holidays accounts for 5% of our household budget each year!
As the great return to work has now begun and we have started to gaze longingly into those brochures, I am going to set out my 5 key predictions for the world of Travel in 2019:
- Terrorism. Regrettably I have to return to this topic. Since 2015, we have generally enjoyed a hiatus from this most awful of crimes. Two such crimes were recently committed at the Strasbourg Christmas Market and against a tourist bus near the Pyramids in Egypt. Both reveal that there exists a continued determination to attack the soft underbelly of tourism. With the horrors of Sousse still ringing in our ears, we are being tempted back to parts of the world which are now apparently safe. It is important now more than ever that Consumers fact-check everything a Travel Company is saying about a destination and truly investigate what is happening. Unfortunately I fear that our overall complacency may mask the risk that has not gone away. I can see that I have been heavily criticised by some in the Travel Industry online about my 'lack' of expertise (please!), nonetheless, country specific facts are hard to avoid and Industry and Governments have a duty to inform and sell their products responsibly. I sincerely hope that I am wrong in this prediction but risks to holidaymakers are evident!
- Brexit. Yes, my old friend has not gone away, nor will it disappear from our lives for a long time yet! The brexit-factor will continue to dominate 2019 and will principally affect the money you have to spend in your pocket. Since 2016, the £ currency value rests at about 15% less than before the referendum; I am expecting to see the UK £’s value fall further to 20% below 2016 levels. This will affect what you can buy/spend but also how much you will pay to travel. Travel Insurance and increased travel bureaucracy changes will start to bed in; these may prove to be minor irritations but should be viewed against the potential of reduced choice both in destinations and travel options in perhaps the months and certainly years ahead. The only thing that will change this course is if the country rethinks its decision!
- The demise of the High Street. We have read much about the closures of some of our retail favourites or the difficulties they now face; travel is no exception! I can remember in years gone by when there were queues within travel agencies at this time of the year to book that annual trip! High Street Travel Agencies will face exactly the same pressures as their retail counter-parts and I expect to see many close in the face of greater online activity. As we change how we shop, Consumers are going to have to become a lot more savvy about the ‘offer’, the type of company making the ‘offer’ and indeed the rights they have to help them in this fast-moving environment!
- A fall in quality? If you look at the ‘offers’ for holidays at present, you should be asking, ‘how can they do it for that price’? I think two markets are forming: those that have the money and those that have a limited budget - both dictate choice & quality. As offers become more frantic, money spent on quality will be less. For example, I am hearing about a 2 week holiday one couple intend to take to Egypt, fully all-inclusive, at a 5 star resort for just over £1,000 - sounds like a bargain until you factor in flight costs, profit margins and what is given to the hotel! Poor quality will be a factor in 2019, for whatever destination. Be careful before you book because all that glitters is not necessarily gold!
- Staycation Bonanza. The summer of 2018 along with brexit uncertainty created a mini-bonanza for UK holiday destinations. Given the continuing uncertainty, I am predicting that we shall see more of the same for 2019. The increased demand will however present challenges for Consumers on costs and value for money and for Travel Suppliers, the challenge of quality and safety. Be prepared to hear of the ‘heroes’ in UK Travel along with those who should perhaps not be in the business at all!
I could certainly wax lyrical about some of the magical places I have visited and will do so through the course of 2019, but as a Travel Commentator, I think it is important to focus Consumer minds on important issues in the year ahead, after all, you've worked hard for your spare cash, you need someone to point out some of the obvious difficulties and risks ahead; wouldn't you agree?