It's safe to say the travel industry has found itself, like the rest of the country, in a state of uncertainty since the results of the historic vote that will see Britain leave the European Union in the not-too-distant future. Predicting how consumers might react in the aftermath and how their actions might affect the industry as a whole has been high on the priority list for those in the research area of the sector, and a report has recently been released which seeks to shed a bit more light on the matter.
In May 2016, WEX conducted a survey of UK consumers, questioning respondents on their travel plans, habits and how they might change as a result of Brexit, the recent terror attacks in Europe and other evolving world circumstances. This August, as summer drew to a close, a follow-up survey was conducted to find out how much attitudes and actions had really changed.
The surveys demonstrate that a number of small changes have taken place with consumers appearing to be somewhat more conservative on how often they plan to travel and how much they are willing to spend. In May, 65% of respondents were planning two trips abroad over the coming 12 months whilst in August, that figure had dropped minutely, down to 62%. In May, people were planning to spend an average of £2,924 on travel over the next 12 months whilst in August that too had dropped, though again only marginally, to £2,597.
The report concludes that, compared to the dramatic drop in travel spend that occurred following the financial crisis of 2008, Brits are simply changing their travel plans as opposed to cancelling them entirely. The report further suggests that confidence is currently key for success in the travel industry - consumers need to feel confident in their own economic standing to make plans but also confident that "the destinations and types of holidays they seek are available and that their plans and destinations are as protected as possible".
It was revealed that the desired destinations UK consumers wish to visit over the next 12 months are mostly short-haul with Spain, including the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, coming out as the most popular destination in both surveys. Greece and Croatia saw a rise in interest in August compared to May.
However, it is worth noting that long-haul isn't off the menu for Brits - three long-haul destinations reached the top ten countries consumers intended to visit in the next 12 months in both surveys: the US, the Caribbean and Australia.
Travel companies need to navigate the future with care, catering to consumer desire and expanding their supplier base accordingly in order to help meet those needs.
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