Financial fears and budget holidays shake up UK travel market in 2017

A new survey uncovers a new picture for travel operators in the UK market in 2017, as financial stress impacts on travellers.

Digital marketing company, Rakuten Marketing, unveils the findings of its 2017 survey of the British travel market and reveals that nearly half (41 per cent) of us will spend less than £500 on our trips abroad this year.

The survey of 1,000 consumers in January identifies that while 43 per cent of Brits admit that they haven’t yet looked at booking a holiday, they likely would later in the year. This indicates consumer confidence could grow depending on the Brexit negotiations.

Undeterred from long haul

Regardless of the situation in Europe, Brits’ appetite for travel further afield does not seem to have been dampened. One in five (20 per cent) of respondents pick either Asia, Africa or South America as the continent they are most likely to travel to this year.

Intriguingly, the proportion does not drop when specifically looking at the travel plans of consumers over 35 years old, as 18 per cent of people in this age bracket opting for long haul destinations.

James Libor, performance marketing and technology manager at Virgin Holidays comments, ‘This goes to show the fluidity of the travel market and digital consumers in general. We all chase value from the products and services we invest in.

‘Where European travel might present uncertain outcomes for now, people are responding by looking further afield, where more exotic holidays are not only manageable but offer all kinds of perks, from consistent weather to your money going further. Travel operators have to keep their fingers on the pulse this year and, of course, it’s having accurate customer and interactions data that makes it possible to engage consumers effectively.’

Year of uncertainty

The most common causes of Brits holding back from travel in 2017 are related to finances. Collectively, concerns about financial instability (17 per cent), poor exchange rates following Brexit (13 per cent) and an interest in saving money through 2017 (15 per cent) paint a clear picture of why many Brits have so far avoided committing to travel.

More traditional issues around travel, including not finding the right package (10 per cent) or not knowing where to go (9 per cent) feature less prominently in the results.

Discount dependent travellers

When asked what the best thing travel holiday companies can offer them at this time of year, 39 per cent of respondents say discounts, vouchers and offers. This far surpasses the number of consumers interested in receiving advice and guides (12 per cent) or suggestions based on individual preferences (12 per cent).

Abi Jacks, marketing director, Rakuten Marketing UK, adds, ‘It’s important to avoid making assumptions in the current climate. Our research has shown that traditional calendar peaks like the January holiday booking season are no longer guaranteed to make campaigns relevant to a mass audience.

‘As people become more digitally savvy, they’re looking for discounts and vouchers throughout the year. Knowing these audiences, the channels they’re active on and their interests are essential factors for travel companies looking to remain competitive in 2017.’

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