Anyone with kids (and some without) may be aware of one of this year’s surprise hit toys: Pie Face.
This simple game requires you to hold your nerve and try to rack up as many turns of the wheel as you can, anxiously waiting for a whipped cream “pie” to ping up unannounced and hit you in the face.
Holding your nerve is never more important in the travel industry than in these first few weeks of the year. You may have had a flurry of enquiries immediately after Christmas, but just how many will convert into bookings?
I've received umpteen press releases from travel firms claiming that January business is already well up on last year – though tellingly it hasn’t been the big-volume operators who've been sending them.
And Tui UK may have termed last weekend “Sunshine Saturday”, but other agents and operators haven't necessarily seen that translate into business.
As we report this week, Paris itself is largely recovering from the November atrocity in terms of tourism, but the wider, global terrorist threat is certainly impacting consumer confidence: there's been an attack upon a Hurghada hotel and a bomb in a tourist area of Istanbul within the last week alone.
It must be tempting in this challenging market to panic and look to discounting. Yet the game is far from over. As we saw last year, the British travelling public are resilient, and there’s a feeling that the bookings will come good, with Thomas Cook predicting this coming weekend will be far more successful than the last.
The fact that consumers need more reassurance creates a perfect opportunity for agents to show their expertise. As one agent told us, customer anxiety about safe places to visit has seen lapsed clients come back to book with her for the first time in years.
So for agents and suppliers who position themselves as customer-focused travel experts, there should be less need to discount than ever. And as momentum picks up, it will be those agents who hold their nerve – and their prices – that truly win the game this January.