Two years ago when I last attended this can’t miss UK travel industry get-together, business was booming. The beaches of Tenerife were teeming with smiley travel agents, technology providers and journalists eager to do business and listen to tips on how to do more.
During last year’s event the economy crumbled, but they’re back in bigger numbers than 2008, craning necks to get a handle on new research and best practice to help get the industry back on track.
Well intro’d with superior MC skills, Jeremy Vine set the scene with a retrospective look over the last year. Swine flu and terrorist attacks have done nothing to stem the tide of those who’ve been hardest hit by the recession and have decided to stay at home. But Mark Tanzer, chief exec of ABTA was up-beat, telling the conference that the industry just needed to get some fundamentals right and they’d find themselves back in a “happy place.”
Now it’s not often you can feel excitement build to see an accountant speak on stage, but both Mark Hudson and Malcolm Preston from PWC had the 1000-odd delegates hanging off their every word as they translated some very detailed consumer survey material into actionable insight.
Essentially consumer's perceptions of value have changed dramatically since September 2008 resulting in the slump in retail sales in the UK.
Mark said that, "consumers are buying less, down trading, switching location & buying clever." By “buying clever” he meant checking prices for better deals and, surprise surprise, using the Internet!
Other points I Tweeted live were:
- Over 75% of consumers say they'll continue being thrifty and bargain hunt after the recession. Changes will be permanent!
- You need to eliminate overheads and costs that don't offer value to the customer. Procure for less.
- Match proposition to customer needs and willingness to pay. Revise product ranges and location. Unbundle services that aren't valued.
Malcolm, a 15 year veteran of the convention, then some ways to apply to this notion of a new world with a new type of consumer.
Essentially the consumer who is “buying clever” is here to stay. Over 90% of us say that even when the recession is a dim and distant memory, we’ll be using the internet more to purchase lower cost items, utilizing promotions that offer value and cheaper goods, and we’ll always keep checking and comparing prices.
Personalisation is key. One to one marketing is key. Understanding your target market and lasering in with added value will open the doors to success in a post-slump economy.
Our travel category manager, Caroline Mastoras, and I were very pleased in a “it just so happens” kind of a way, because tomorrow we lead the Innovative Thinking panel here in Spain, where experts from the display, targeting, mobile and analytics worlds will be addressing exactly how to think in these one-to-one terms and get the very best from digital marketing in order to help the delegates race ahead when holidays are back on the UK consumer’s regular menu.
I'll post some photos tomorrow!