A page-one story in The Sunday Times last weekend could not have come at a worse time for the travel industry. “No-deal Brexit travel warning: don’t go on holiday after 29 March,” shouted the headline. It came just days before the travel industry’s vital new-year marketing period.
Fears of chaos at the borders, airports and ports have only been fuelled as government contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit have emerged, including the deployment of 3,500 troops.
And British business this week issued their starkest forecast yet of the consequences of a no-deal scenario, saying it would be catastrophic for the UK economy.
But, despite the dire warnings and news of emergency planning, some of the travel industry’s biggest marketing spenders are keeping calm and carrying on, according to The Drum; there are no plans to rein in ad budgets.
TUI’s marketing campaign has already launched and will run into the New Year. A new wave of marketing begins on Boxing Day with its First Choice brand.
So far, the company claims, bookings appear unaffected. “Bookings for summer 2019 are currently ahead of where they were for last summer at the same point in time and the overall market also reflects that trend.” a spokesperson told The Drum.
British Airways and Virgin agreed, with Virgin saying more than 54% of its programme was already sold with forward bookings 7% ahead of the same point last year.
“Both Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays plans to invest heavily in the first quarter of 2019, to capitalise on the key holiday booking period.” a spokesperson said.
Lastminute.com also said its marketing plans remain unchanged. “While there has been a certain level of scaremongering, we’re not seeing that same level of uncertainty from our customers, in terms of our forward bookings and holiday searches for next year – and we will be running the traditional seasonal activity, such as our annual January sales, as we normally would.” a spokesperson said.
According to the GfK consumer sentiment index, released in late November, British consumers’ confidence has fallen to its lowest level in almost a year.
One possible theory why the travel sector may as yet be unaffected by Brexit fears, The Drum suggested, is that consumers are so sick of bad Brexit news, they just want to get away, whatever the perceived risk.
Sourced from The Drum, Sunday Times; additional content by WARC staff