The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has reported a resurgence of their members package holidays and according to them more than half (53 per cent) of British holidaymakers took a package holiday in the last year which represents an increase of 6 per cent on 2015 and a rise of more than 10 per cent on 2011.
The research was carried out just weeks after the collapse of the Lowcost Travel Group found that financial protection has grown significantly as a reason for booking a package holiday, almost doubling from 16 per cent in 2015 to 37 per cent this year. Quoting the report, ‘the increase was particularly pronounced among the 18-24 year olds’. But the most popular reason for choosing a package holiday this year is ‘having everything taken care of’ which was selected by 73 per cent of consumers asked, while last year’s top reason given was ‘best value option for price’ which has slipped to second place in 2016 at 59 per cent.
ABTA went on to state that ‘the growth in package holidays is being driven by the youngest and oldest age groups’ with almost two thirds (63 per cent) of people aged over 65 in Britain taking a package holiday this year compared to 47 per cent in 2015.
Following the failure of a number of tour operators it is perhaps not surprising that they went on to conclude ‘In a year of high profile international terrorist incidents, and change and uncertainties on the UK political stage, it appears people are seeking the support and protection offered by a package holiday’. As the value of Sterling continues to plummet against many currencies including the US$, are there any valuable lessons our marketing gurus can learn from these facts and observations?
In recent times, probably the most successful airline partnership that has been forged with Barbados is with JetBlue and I am sure there will be more new routes launched over the next year or so. Emirates the middle-eastern based airline recently announced a new nonstop daily service from Dubai to Fort Lauderdale starting 15 December this year. Emirates already have a code share arrangement with JetBlue and this will allow seamless connections through Fort Lauderdale to 26 US cities and 19 Caribbean territories on the same ticket. From their Dubai hub, Emirates offer a world of destination options across six continents and hopefully we can piggyback on this new service to help open up new source markets.
The other announcement that will almost certainly speed the launch of new services from Scandinavia to North America and hopefully the Caribbean is the stated intention of Norwegian Airlines to employ US based pilots initially at Fort Lauderdale. Up to 100 pilots will be employed and this I am sure will go a long way to breakdown the barrage of objections placed by American legacy carriers to limit competition across the Atlantic.
It is indisputable that lower air fares drive additional business and create new demand and you only have to look at one of those legacy airlines, Delta, and their most recent financial statements prove that, despite allowing for massive fuel hedge losses.