Travel agents are slashing marketing budgets and encouraging staff to take second jobs following news of further redundancies in the sector.
This week Avis Europe announced 315 job losses – 5% of the group’s headcount – and the closure of its headquarters in the UK in a restructure saving the company £16 million a year.
Days earlier Travel 2’s Glasgow reservations centre entered a 30-day consultation period as part of a structural review. Between 20 and 100 jobs are expected to go.
Agents admitted January could be crunch time for jobs in the trade, with the Confederation of British Industry predicting a peak of 2.9 million unemployed nationwide next year. One senior agent warned: “January will be the time when companies make these decisions if there isn’t a big bounce-back.”
Already agents said the economic downturn was having a drastic effect on forward business, particularly winter sun holidays and city breaks.
Newcastle-based Holiday Discount Centre managing director Steve Campion said: “We have encouraged our homeworkers to take second jobs up to Christmas because demand is not there.”
Freedom Direct, in Newcastle, has cut its pay-per-click marketing spend. “We have cut our marketing spend significantly but where we are spending we are getting better returns. We are not alone.”
Online retailer lastminute.com has changed its marketing mix. Sales director Andy Washington said: “We are spending more on marketing but the mix of channels has changed.”
Bookable Holidays has switched its focus to ski. Marketing director Craig Ashford said: “We have seen a decline in sales of sun products.”
Kwik Travel general manager and director Stephen Briggs added: “We are working hard to generate as many calls as possible. It’s like trying to push water uphill.”
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