Johnny Pollard, commercial director, On The BeachSo, the Christmas period is upon us and 2010 is coming to an end. I can already hear most of you cheering and I am there with you.

Who would have thought that during this year we would have witnessed so much change?  

As I’m sure you will agree, it has been a turbulent year in our industry. Every year I give some industry friends my predictions for the coming 12 months, and for the previous three years my predictions have been correct.

However, the same cannot be said for this year.
But I do enjoy a challenge, so here are my predictions for 2011.

The travel industry will continue to consolidate in a major way, with investment coming mostly from overseas.

There is now a gap in the market for a third travel superpower and I can see the Monarch travel group finally stepping up and flexing its muscles and taking that position.

I can also see a change in the customers book their holidays in 2011. They will not be simply focused on price, but also customer experience and service.

Online agencies will continue to increase their market share and grow steadily. The online agents are growing year on year and will continue to do so by adding product, service and a vision for the future. Increasing customer satisfaction will drive repeat business away from the high street.

The various protection debates will go on, but I do finally see light at the end of the tunnel around June time, just before the busy season for travellers.

APD, apps and no more ash clouds

As for Air Passenger Duty, and the recent ridiculous increases by the government, unfortunately I don’t see them changing their minds anytime soon, although I do think that Abta’s head of public affairs Luke Pollard is making some progress at the levels needed.

Technology will continue to dominate and the ‘app’ will finally hit us full on. I’m sure the first bookable holiday app is not too far off. The end of the year could be dominated by mobile holiday bookings and I can see iPad and iPhone users being the first to sample this leap toward the future.

Next year will be the year of European expansion, with several online travel agencies branching out into major European markets.

There is also a slight chance that one or two countries will have to leave the Euro behind and go back to old currencies, the most likely being Greece. This will undoubtedly affect all of us in some way but ultimately it will once again be the consumer who will be hit the hardest.

As for ash clouds, failures and any other travel related problems, no thanks. We’ve had enough of that – so let’s raise a glass to a less turbulent 2011. Happy Christmas everyone.