Where is the confidence for Summer 2021?
As a gaze out of my home office window at the rain lashing against the window pane I dream of all those places I could be. However when I really think about it I’m remembering those places as they were when I last visited - no face masks, social distancing, closed cafes and restaurants or restricted gatherings.
As so much of the world is still in lockdown I realise that I might just be swapping one set of restrictions for those that would be even stricter elsewhere. If I was visiting Spain or South Africa I would have to wear a mask everywhere and might even be subject to curfews in places like the Western Cape. However gloomy the weather I’m grateful for the freedoms that I do have and the choices I can make.
Interestingly there are many of us according to YouGov[i] that would love for us to have even stricter regulations during lockdown. On the 8th January 78% of adults in the UK voted strongly in favour of international travellers coming to the UK having to have a negative covid test. Whilst those of us working in the travel industry might see this as another nail in our industry coffin – we need to listen to the views of our population.
The daily questions YouGov put to our population are interesting and give us the real barometer about our attitudes to so many important issues. One of the things that fascinates me most is the amount of confidence that people have about travelling again.
When I saw that 74% of UK adults to not feel confident about having a summer holiday abroad[ii] I knew that those companies planning on summer 2021 overseas travel bouncing back may need to rethink their strategy.
Whilst the vaccination programme is well underway in the UK and the country is well ahead of many other EU countries, the spread of the Covid variants has put a spanner in the best laid plans. We will not know for sure when lockdown restrictions will be lifted.
Whilst I’m surprised as to how resilient the stock markets have been in the face of so much business adversity the one thing that they need is confidence, which is in short supply. Those in the press pushing for everyone to invest in IAG (parent company of BA) were ridiculed this week as the uncertainty is still too high[iii].
One thing we can do is to look at whether our business can pivot to take advantage of the domestic market – something we have done with our overseas clients and it has brought a lifeline and a new set of customers. We have to be flexible and nimble and respond quickly to the change in demand.
Whilst the domestic market may not want to stay for more than a 2-3 nights, it’s better than no business at all but does require more flexible, dynamic pricing in order to maximise the opportunity. My advice to all those overseas operators who are hoping for a UK visitor is to look closely at whether you can attract your fellow citizens or those living closer to home. The UK traveller may take some persuasion to return in summer 2021 and having a backup plan is essential.
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