“That was the moment I vomited out of fear” is not the usual opener of a conference speaker. But under the theme of Beyond The Expected, it was a fitting introduction to a keynote speech at this year’s Travel Network Group conference.
The quote, by skipper Brendan Hall, was in reference to the overarching fear he felt when the yacht he was sailing as part of the Round the World clipper race turned over during a hurricane in the Pacific. It was, he said, only through teamwork – and holding his hands up to his mistakes – that the team not only survived, but went on to win the 2009-10 race.
It was a powerful speech, and resonated with many of the 500 delegates present. If only Theresa May had been listening.
Unfortunately she was likely too busy trying to ignore the estimated one million people – including several travel figures – who took to the streets on Saturday demanding a voice on Brexit.
This week there was further evidence of the damage the ongoing political situation is having on the UK travel industry – from Celebrity Cruises’ boss Lisa Lutoff-Perlo admitting UK sales have been hit by market uncertainty to a leading travel lawyer warning agents to check supplier partners have contingency plans in place, in the event of a no-deal scenario.
Despite refusing to mention the “B word” on stage, The Travel Network Group’s chief executive Gary Lewis later admitted to TTG he was also “genuinely worried about a no-deal situation” and the impact it will have on travel. Such a scenario would once have tallied with the conference’s theme.
Worryingly, it may no longer be beyond the expected.