Newmarket commercial director David Sharman looks at market trends and how the touring sector is responding

Don’t you find it really invigorating when you stop for a moment and really focus on taking control of the things which you can actually influence, rather than wasting your energy on those which you simply cannot? The question is, how can you follow that mantra when considering what’s going on in the High Street right now?

We know the current political uncertainty has cast its shadow over the economy and the travel industry is, of course, not immune to those headwinds. However, the strength of the retail trade, and what it offers its customers, has presented business opportunities not afforded to other distribution channels. In uncertain times, customers have undoubtedly turned to the security, advice and comfort that you get when booking with travel agent experts.

With political deadlines coming and going, a more cautious approach to booking holidays to destinations in Europe has become evident. Demand is still there, but everyone is having to work harder to help agents secure a sale; focusing on value, highlighting product quality and offering greater flexibility have all become ever more important factors.

One very discernible trend over the last 12 months has been a heightened demand for long-haul destinations where the provision of value is even more important, and indeed for booking them much further in advance. It’s a great incentive to book early… and beneficial to customers, agents and operators alike, turning the “wait for a deal” mentality on its head.

Another growing trend in 2019 has been customers wanting more flexibility when choosing their touring holiday. The ability to extend a holiday in beach resorts at the end of a touring itinerary has been of great appeal to the 50+ market. It’s a great way to really relax and unwind after discovering the stories behind a destination. It also offers a greater opportunity to upsell – from alternative hotel accommodation to flight seat categories; from a wider choice of durations to bolt-on extensions. The traditional rigid approach to offering a one-dimensional touring programme is changing.

The touring sector is evolving to reflect the market we are seeking to reach. Yes; the classic “tour” offers a sense of reassurance, but, increasingly, the sector is responding to a desire for a greater sense of adventure, offering experiences beyond the “normal” content of a touring holiday. The Newmarket portfolio is all about variety which is really important for the customers we are looking to attract.

We are steadfastly committed to providing excellence to the 50+ market. It is a really powerful sector to be in. There are now more than 23 million people aged over 50 in the UK which is more than a third of the total population… the third with the highest level of disposable income!

The ongoing challenge is to look to develop your brand, to communicate effectively, and offer a holiday experience which really appeals to that audience as tastes continue to change. It is a diverse demographic offering fantastic opportunities to those brands who get it right.

Join us and seize the day – happy selling!