As the cream of the tourism industry gathered in Barcelona at ABTA’s annual Travel Convention to discuss current issues and predict future trends, there was food for thought for the timeshare industry too, reported RDO’s UK PR consultant, Jackie Murphy.
While many speakers reflected on the impact of the economic downturn on the travel industry, it was the presentation by Malcom Preston of PricewaterhouseCoopers on how consumer buying habits are changing permanently that painted the clearest picture of the challenge ahead.
According to PwC’s research, consumers have significantly changed their buying habits during the recession, mainly by switching location, downgrading, buying less and, above all, buying clever. In terms of booking holidays, this means they now spend more time looking for the right option before buying.
This kind of behaviour is here to stay, said Preston, and consumers will continue to look for promotional offers, use the internet more and spend more time checking prices, even when the recession is over and things get better.
“Your customer has changed, have you?,” concluded Preston, a challenge that rings true for the timeshare industry, as well as the rest of the holiday world.
Another presentation, by James Goodman from the Forum for the Future, also challenged the industry to think about what may lie ahead, describing four possible future scenarios based on different predictions for oil prices, economic conditions, social developments and climate change.
A doomsday scenario of devastating climate change and wars; a prospect of a booming UK economy where everybody travels more; a future dominated by high oil prices and a forecast where individuals are given a strict carbon allowance were the suggestions given for how the industry may look by 2023.