Comment: Conference mood music remains upbeat despite headwinds

Travel Weekly’s Lucy Huxley reflects on the buoyant atmosphere at recent industry events

The mood at the Jet2holidays and Travel Counsellors conferences this week was buoyant, with delegates recognising ongoing headwinds but also feeling positive about continued demand.

This confidence was reflected brilliantly at the Jet2 event by Barrhead Travel’s Caroline Donaldson who, when asked about threats to traditional agents, responded that traditional agents should now be seen as threats to OTAs who can’t deliver the same personal service.

And with Jet2holidays reporting a significant rise in average booking values via the trade, it seems its agent partnerships are going great guns.

Prior to the pandemic, Jet2 had largely bucked the trend within the big players with its trade-friendly approach.

But with easyJet holidays putting agents at the heart of the growth confirmed in its annual results and Tui also reporting a positive response to its recent re-engagement as it unveiled its Christmas advert this week, there is certainly no shortage of partners for agents to choose from. This is obviously good news for independents, with operators all vying for their business. And with increased capacity coming on stream next year and each of the big players offering regional flight options, there should be plenty of love to go around.

Of course, the big three are only one part of the travel ecosystem, and we also heard this week from the specialist operators at Aito’s conference.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the mood among smaller players was slightly more cautious, with overcapacity a particular concern, but there was also plenty of optimism on show.

Caution continues to be the watchword, but confidence ahead of the peaks still feels justified.

Comment from Travel Weekly November 30 edition

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