Comment: Balance potential challenges of travelling with inspiration

Memories made on holidays are moments to cherish, says Silver Travel Advisor managing director Lisa McAuley

It’s not often I find myself bored, but I’m really bored at the moment – bored of reading endless national media headlines about queues at ports and airports.

The media exaggerating bad news isn’t new, but as a definition on Wikipedia states: “News typically connotes the presentation of new information.” To that point, if I’ve read once about a queue at security at an airport, I’ve read it multiple times over the past few weeks. I’m over it; it’s not news.

My own experience at both Manchester and Heathrow airports over the Easter period was OK. In fact, at Heathrow we breezed through departures, likely because we were using VeriFLY and only had carry-on luggage for a five-night trip to New York.

I would have taken checked luggage, but the noise in the national media made me rethink. Headlines such as ‘Prepare for a year of hell at airports’ do nothing to instil confidence. Will this sort of reporting drive an increase in domestic business? I doubt it. Will it drive more ex-UK cruising? Possibly. Does it cause concern for customers? Most definitely.

Of course, we owe it to customers to have a balanced conversation about the potential challenges of travelling, just as we would have done pre-pandemic. Any travel professional worth their salt seeks to advise customers to the best of their knowledge at all stages, from inspiration to booking to travel. And the scales were rightly tipped over the past couple of years with messaging focusing on the logistical requirements and challenges involved with travelling.

Inspiring messaging

But now it’s time to address that imbalance and reintroduce inspiration, if only for our own sanity and a reminder of why we’re in this industry!

And that leads me to my company’s ‘Silver Travellers’. There was a response to one of our Facebook posts last week from one of our followers, Lesley, who posted: “If you haven’t signed up to Silver Travel Advisor but want to get the best ideas for travel, I can really recommend.”

Another follower, Andrew, said: “If you like to have as much information about travel/holidays, this is the only place I trust to give me the full truth.”

We don’t shy away from the reality of travelling and we never have done. We have reviews on our site from members ranging from the overwhelmingly positive about where they’ve been or what they’ve done to tangible disappointment when something didn’t live up to their expectations.

We don’t look to sanitise the reality of travel, but as destinations have reopened we’ve seized the opportunity to promote inspirational content. Our recent articles show our writers and wider team have been travelling extensively, to destinations including the Seychelles, the US, Canary Islands, Holland, Sri Lanka and Antarctica. Yes, queues may exist at airports and ports, but the memories made on holidays tend to centre around moments to cherish and relish, and it’s important we remember that.

Holiday intentions

Our recent survey with more than 3,000 respondents found that 58% of Silver Travel Advisor members plan to take between two and three holidays this year, with 16% planning to take four or more trips.

And while the cost-of-living increases have brought cautious thinking, some 74% of respondents said they still plan to spend the same or more on their holidays than they did pre-pandemic. People want to travel both at home and overseas.

We’re so very fortunate in our industry to be surrounded by inspiration. I’m writing this column a day after disembarking the incredible Celebrity Beyond; I had the privilege of attending the Silver Dawn naming ceremony a few weeks ago; and I’m looking forward to experiencing Wonder of the Seas.

With ship launches, hotel openings, new routes and tours and new attractions to explore (we recently visited The Edge on the 100th floor of Hudson Yards skyscraper in New York, the highest outdoor observation deck in the western hemisphere), we have so much content at our fingertips. So let’s remember to balance the reality of travel with the inspiration for travel

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