Travel has faced a horrific few months.
Not only has it worked tirelessly to appease angry customers, dished out millions in refunds (while getting very little back in), and faced horrendous furlough staffing challenges, it’s also faced mounting criticism from within the sector.
Mouthy observers haven’t held back in suggesting the industry is too fragmented to achieve any support – governmental or otherwise.
But this morning, such claims were silenced.
TTG asked the industry to come together and post an identical tweet at 10am aimed at transport secretary Grant Shapps. We hoped to create a Twitterstorm.
And boy, did the industry respond.
90,000 jobs already lost/at risk, only 6 countries without restrictions – the UK travel industry is collapsing in front of your eyes @grantshapps. Enough is enough. Where's the sector specific support? The airport testing? Why won’t you #SaveTravel? #SaveFutureTravel #Test4Travel pic.twitter.com/b6a4HEDdEy— TTG (@TTGMedia) October 8, 2020
Within minutes, the hashtag #SaveTravel was trending, along with sister hashtags #SaveFutureTravel and #Test4Travel. After an hour and half, Twitter analytics suggested 5,200 tweets had been sent and #SaveTravel was trending UK-wide.
Travel agents, tour operators, cruise lines, travel media and more all came together, united by an identical tweet aiming to highlight to Shapps that enough is enough.
It was travel agent Amy Wright from Cruise Select who perhaps summed it up best: “Is it just me getting a little emotional at us all coming together? (Although our shared passion and love of travel and camaraderie that comes from that is one of the things I love most about working in travel)”, she tweeted.
Is it just me getting a little emosh at us all coming together? (Although our shared passion and love of travel and camaraderie that comes from that is one of the things I love most about working in travel) #SaveTravel #OneTravelIndustry https://t.co/DNLMskJoAH pic.twitter.com/JrivjgdJy2— Amy (@MsAmyzing) October 8, 2020
Yes, the industry had already received a faint signal the government might be starting to listen to its cries last night, with the announcement of a new Global Travel Taskforce.
But as TTG deputy news editor James Chapple pointed out – who needs another taskforce? Certainly not the travel industry, which already knows exactly what it needs, and has been calling for it for several months now.
The demands of the #SaveTravel letter, which attracted more than 11,000 signatures and was hand-delivered to Grant Shapps and chancellor Rishi Sunak on September 1, summed it up pretty well:
What will a taskforce deliver that the industry doesn’t already know? The fact it won’t report back until November rubs further salt into the wound. Some travel businesses are already on the edge – how many of these will still be around a month from now?
According to the BBC on Thursday (8 October), the Treasury is looking at providing financial support to the hospitality industry in areas of the UK that have been subjected to stricter lockdown measures.
And yet the entire UK travel industry has been the victim of sector-wide lockdown measures. So why has the Treasury still not committed to exploring dedicated financial support for travel businesses?
Ministers are failing to understand – or choosing to ignore – the thousands of travel companies which have been forced to give out money over the last six months as refunds, while getting very little in to sustain them.
This morning, however, the industry hit back.
There have been suggestions the travel industry should make less noise and focus instead on action. But when there is little action forthcoming from government (bar the announcement of this taskforce, six months too late) then what choice does the sector have?
The louder we shout, the harder we are to ignore. And this morning on Twitter, the travel industry roared. As we will continue to keep pointing out, enough is enough. And we’re not going to stop, Grant Shapps, until you start listening.