It’s no secret that profit is thinly spread in the mainstream package market at the moment. At Abta’s Travel Matters conference this week, delegates heard both optimism about consumer spending power – with employment levels high and a rise in real wages in the past few years – but also concern around an apparent lack of consumer confidence in spending on bucket-and-spade holidays.
In a summary of the market by industry expert Martin Alcock, he noted it’s the big players in the mass market – where margins are tightest and where volatility in oil prices has the biggest impact – who are feeling the greatest pinch. It has been at the smaller, niche end of the sector that recent mergers and acquisitions have focused.
The appeal of the specialist market versus mainstream was also on the agenda at the first-ever TTG New to Touring & Adventure Festival this week, where delegates learned from several agents who know which side their bread is buttered where touring and adventure is concerned.
Guests heard not only that escorted touring and adventure operators pay some of the best commission in the trade, but that several thrive on working closely with agents to help them promote an exclusive departure to special-interest groups in their area. Also that there are almost certainly solo travellers in their local market in need of face-to-face reassurance before taking the plunge and booking a solo tour.
All our agent experts agreed touring and adventure has provided valuable extra revenue for them, but remains secondary to more mainstream products.
By turning on to touring, agents can ensure that, while package holidays might be your bread and butter (and thinly sliced at that), there’s something more satisfying to be had in the middle.