IF the lights for business travel are amber, then those for the leisure market must still be green.
Company CFOs surveyed worldwide said they were likely to cut travel budgets this year, while the Global Business Travel Association is projecting a slowdown in international growth of business travel in the near term.
In a separate study released last week by AsiaRooms.com, its inaugural Traveller Confidence Index found that the global average score for overseas leisure travel propensity was 61.4 points, higher than business travel’s 57.1 points (TTG Asia e-Daily, July 19, 2012). Around 15,000 travellers were surveyed during the first quarter.
In Singapore, for instance, travel experts have noted that during economic downturns, outbound leisure travel tends to increase as businessmen find more opportunities to go on holidays with their families. And if recent travel fair showings are anything to go by, it sure does not feel like doom and gloom.
In fact, it has been reported that companies are so bullish about business that they have signed up in record numbers for the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore fair this August, the country’s biggest biannual consumer travel show.
At least one company has expanded its booth size by 50 per cent from the February edition, and there will be at least 1,145 booths and 167 exhibitors – the largest number in the fair’s 25-year history.
Travel consultants are also expecting sales growth leading up to and during this period to be between 20 and 30 per cent up from last year.
Without doubt, consumer sentiment remains high across Asian markets, not just in Singapore. However, several scenarios are likely to play out should bad news continue to filter in.
For one, Asian travellers, while still desiring to travel, are likely to become bargain-hunters, which means you should be proactive about reaching out to customers months ahead of peak travel periods with attractive offers.
Because they will seek out deals in advance, they will also be tempted to pick up that cheap LCC ticket during an online promotion, leaving you to convince them that you can take the hassle out of their holiday by selling them a land-based add-on that fits their needs.
Two, all-inclusive packages have proven to be in demand during belt-tightening times as consumers perceive them to be value-for-money. This includes products such as cruises and full-board accommodation, which you could consider promoting more of when there is financial uncertainty.
Thirdly, the weekend getaway market will become more important, so take note of long weekends and make sure you capitalise on them by giving travellers ideas on how they can fully utilise those public holidays.
Yes, the eurozone may be falling apart and even China may be in for a hard landing, but there is still reason for optimism in this corner of the world. How well you do will depend on how smart you are at sales and marketing.
This article was first published in TTG Asia, July 27 - August 9, 2012 on page 4. To read more, please view our digital edition or click here to subscribe.