"2019 is going to be a good year”, says Abta’s chief executive Mark Tanzer in this week’s TTG.
And it seems his optimism, at least so far, is well founded.
With myriad reports of high street gloom and consumer confidence taking a hit due to the political uncertainty over Christmas, you could forgive some jitters over what this might mean for peaks.
So it was heartwarming to speak with numerous agents this week who have reported a bumper start to the key booking period. From Freedom Travel, which saw "an unheard of” number of Personal Travel Advisors opting to work on New Year’s Day “to cope with demand”, to Holidaysplease, which saw sales rise 119% year-on-year between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.
Even more refreshing was the fact agents said few clients had mentioned the dreaded B word – as Holidaysplease’s Richard Dixon points out: “I think people are just a bit sick of Brexit” (p5).
Most importantly, though, is that not only are people continuing to book holidays, they’re evidently still turning to travel agents to do so. For all the talk over the festive season of how the high street took a battering in 2018, travel agents – both high street and otherwise – remain busy.
Nicole Eaves’ business, Garstang Travel, is a case in point. This month she celebrates the 35th anniversary of her Lancashire-based agency and she’s as confident about the future of high street travel agencies as when she first opened the doors to her own in 1984 (p10).
As Freedom’s interim head Matt Harding highlights: “Nobody knows what’s going to happen with Brexit”, but what’s key, he points out, is that people are continuing to book holidays “because they want something to look forward to and to focus on this year”. And that can only be a good thing for us all.
Here’s to a happy and prosperous new year!