Travel businesses can use the recession as an excuse to make unpopular business decisions, such as making staff redundant, and press for better deals with suppliers, according to accountancy firm Elman Wall managing director Jonathan Wall.

Speaking at the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) Specialist Travel Agents (STA) conference in Gdansk, Poland last week, accountancy firm boss Wall said the current economic climate can be used to justify some extreme measures.

He added: “In a recession you can get away with anything – just blame the recession.

“[Whether it’s] getting rid of a weak member of staff or changing suppliers, use the economic environment to work in your favour.”

Wall said agents should be not be afraid to try and renegotiate contracts with suppliers too. He said: “Suppliers want you to drive business to them in years to come, so in many cases, they will take a share of the pain now.”

He also urged businesses to keep an eye on key performance indicators, while urging anyone who has not reduced their business costs by 10%, to react immediately.

Wall said travel bosses should take as much advice as possible from other businesses, while also taking time out to plan for the future.

He said: “So many travel business owners don’t have the time to step back and think about where they’re going. [The result of that is that] they don’t know where they will end up.

“The reality of this recession is no one has a clue; no one knows when it is going to end. It is very difficult to plan for, but you do need to have a plan.”

However, Wall said travel businesses that have good cash reserves and have kept borrowing low will weather the storm well.

He said: “The vast majority of travel businesses will get through the recession.

“If all you need [to survive] is a few really good high-end bookings, you can go and get them and focus on that.”


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