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Comment: Travel is the only way to boost confidence

Expectations and a need for reassurance is at an all-time high, says Silver Travel Advisor’s Lisa McAuley

It’s all about consumer confidence this week – and I’m counting myself as the consumer here, my confidence is brimming!

Having just returned from an action-packed week in Dubai – more of that later – and following a speedy turnaround within 24 hours of being back in the UK, I’m now looking out to sea waiting to board a tender to explore Santorini for the day having set sail on a cruise from Athens. Life appears as it did before the pandemic. It feels great and, dare I say it, almost normal.

After posting a few photos on social media from Dubai and my first night on board, I received a number of messages that all followed a similar theme: friends stating ‘need to book my next holiday – been far too long’ and ‘wish I could have joined you’ or asking questions like ‘was it great?’ and ‘looks amazing, was there much faffing?’

A few sent me private messages with specific questions and, fresh from my experience, I hope I’ve given those friends the confidence to book their next trip.

Since the last government announcement, there has been an upturn for many of us in the industry and I’m sure everyone is with me in hoping that positive vibe is here to stay.

Offer reassurance

Consumer confidence regarding travel has taken a battering for far too long.

Joining me on this week’s cruise is my friend Jan, a fellow silver traveller who pre-pandemic would have taken numerous overseas holidays each year yet in the past 18 months has chosen to stay in the UK. Having been reluctant to travel – driven by what she’s been reading and seeing in the media, and the appearance of how challenging it is to go on holiday – she is now brimming with confidence and is pleasantly surprised how easy it is.

Not only that, but she is also incredibly reassured by the protocols in place from airport to cruise, and planning where she can go next.

Which leads me on to what Dubai has to offer. Unsurprisingly there’s been continued investment in the destination. Along with Dubai Expo 2020, Ain Dubai [the world’s largest Ferris wheel] and numerous hotel openings, existing hotels have taken the hiatus in international arrivals as a chance to invest in refurbishmnents and to evolve. The competition out there to be the best in class is fierce and the consumer will be the one that benefits, further boosting confidence.

Invest in yourself

Not everyone has been in the fortunate position to invest over the past 18 months. However, we at Silver Travel Advisor took the bold decision to do so, recently completing our rebrand and with a new website coming towards the end of the year.

These decisions were not taken lightly given the industry has had its toughest-ever trading period.
But consumer expectations – and more importantly, their need for reassurance – are at an all-time high, so while businesses and individuals may not be in a position or need to invest in themselves as we have done, there is value to be had in investing in one’s own knowledge.

I view my recent trips in exactly this way. The more I know and understand about the travel experience and destinations, the more I can showcase that knowledge and help support consumer confidence.

It’s years since I’ve done a hotel site inspection – my role had moved in a way that it wasn’t my priority. However, in Dubai I was determined to go back to the floor, hotfooting it around hotels, viewing bedrooms, restaurants and the like.

It reminded me why I love the travel industry: the innovation, the laser-like focus on guest experiences, the food, the cultural melting pot and watching happy relaxed holidaymakers escaping their usual routine and creating lasting memories that will be talked about for years to come.

So as I disembark and explore Santorini for the first time, I intend to savour every moment, learn lots and bore all my friends with numerous photos on social media – because what I’m doing is building consumer confidence in my own small way!

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