There’s a “huge opportunity” for suppliers to turn pent-up demand into bookings following last week’s red list reduction and during peaks next year, according to the boss of Kuoni.
Speaking during a Travel Weekly webcast after the government announced relaxations to its travel restrictions last week, chief executive Derek Jones outlined how the tour operator had a marketing campaign currently running in the national press, on social media and would have another ready for the turn-of-year period.
Asked when demand would materialise into bookings, Jones said: “We’re in national press the last two weekends with a campaign which was trying to capture the moment and that will probably continue with that.
“We’re also planning a big turn-of-year campaign as well I mean genuinely there is a huge opportunity in front of us.”
Brian Young, G Adventures’ managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, suggested the market would return “over a period of time” and said the operator would focus its efforts on the turn-of-year peak selling season.
“It’s not going to be this sudden ‘woof’ upward trajectory,” said Young, adding: “The market will start to come back because there is definitely a big amount of pent-up demand.
“So, our whole thing is looking forward to peaks.”
He added that it would take time for customers to understand the government’s latest red list amendments. Last week, the red list was slashed to seven countries and the Foreign Office (FCDO) relaxed its advice to more than 80 countries in two waves.
“Customers still need to understand ‘well if I want to go to Thailand, can I get to Thailand?’ ‘Are they going to let me in?’, he said. “It just takes a bit of time customers to decipher ‘when can I go?’ ‘What do I need to do when I get there?’
He also pointed to the “positive” news that travellers returning to the UK would soon need to take a lateral flow test rather than a PCR test, although the government has yet to confirm a date when exactly this will be introduced.
Jones added that he expects private equity companies to “jump into the space” left behind by companies that have collapsed during the pandemic.
“[Private equity companies] are going to be picking over the bones,” he said. “There’s a massive opportunity – and fingers crossed – we are over the last big hurdle now and now we can all start to get back into a normal planning cycle and get ready for January.”