Smaller tour operators are rethinking traditional January advertising campaigns amid fears of a fall in demand as the UK falls into a recession.
While Thomas Cook, TUI Travel, Virgin Holidays and Cosmos Holidays are launching their usual peak sales campaigns, some independent tour operators are reviewing their plans in response to the worsening economy.
Heavy job losses and the fall in the value of the pound against the euro and dollar are expected to have a significant impact on holiday sales in the new year, with customers likely to hold out for late deals.
Jetset chairman John Bond said the thousands of people who have been made redundant or whose jobs are in consultation would affect the market.
He said: “We are holding fast on all advertising. The recession hasn’t fully hit the workforce yet so I don’t think we’ll see the usual volumes in January. We are working six weeks ahead rather than planning the year.”
Truly Independent Professional Travel Organisation chairman Graham Balmforth said should the jobs market prove to be a major issue, operators can still drive sales.
He added: “If the price is right and the industry can put out offers in conjunction with travel agents that are almost too good to be true, then people might go.It is going to make for a strong lates market.“
Prestige Holidays sales managerJohn Joinson agreed strong ties with the trade will help drive sales, adding: “We are launching two agent promotions in January in an effort to drive business through our top agencies.”
Hoseasons will be concentrating on internet advertising with no TVadverts this yearin a bout of belt-tightening thatchief executive Richard Carrick believes will affect the whole trade.
He said: “We’ve put quite a bit of money behind online promotion. It is a cheaper way of carrying over the message.
“I can’t see the vertically integrated multiples spending the sort of money they used to.“
Federation of Tour Operators director–general Andy Cooper said the peaks period remains as important as ever, adding: “January is still the time to do everything you can to drive sales.
“However, it is quite likely that the market will change a bit with more being sold in the summer lates market, so it is sensible to hold back some of your marketing budget to spend then.”
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