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  • Writer's pictureRoy Barker

With enough pent-up demand to weather almost any economic storm in 2023, what does the future hold?

By Roy Barker

A dangerous topic – not one for the foolhardy. Particularly when we face a global and local economic outlook of such uncertainty.

But there are some things that we know that don’t change, that you can take advantage of to protect and grow your travel business even in the most difficult times.

Some of the insights I’m going to share come from the work we do with AITO - The Specialist Travel Association. We’ve researched hundreds of thousands of independent-minded travel enthusiasts over the last 5 years.

Some of the insights come from open-source data – we hold more than 25 million data points against postcodes in the UK (don’t be alarmed – it’s all anonymised and GDPR compliant!).

Our other insights come from working with more than 60 travel businesses over the last 10 years to help them use their booking and enquiry data to change the economics of their businesses and increase conversion and repeat booking.

I’m going to tell you three things that will help you think differently about your business and, hopefully, feel more confident about the future.

First, something from our AITO Travel Insights consumer research: 2023 looks like a good year for specialist and adventure travel. Why? Because of the release of pent-up demand. Even with continuing economic headwinds.

  1. Almost 90% of our survey respondents said they will be taking the same number or more holidays in 2023 as they did in 2019

  2. 80% of respondents see their holidays as essential

  3. Only 5% see their financial position getting a lot worse

Image: Taken from AITO Travel Insights consumer research

"Our view is that there is enough hard pent-up demand to weather almost any economic storm in 2023"

Roy Barker, Director of Spike Insight

Second, demographics is on your side. One of the reasons we believe pent-up demand will be realised in 2023 is the age profile of specialist and adventure travel.

"The affluent over 50’s are insulated from economic downturns and inflation. Simply because they have more wealth and more disposable income than the age bands below them".

Roy Barker, Director of Spike Insight

And on top of that, there are more of them. The classic ‘Baby Boomers’ are now moving into their 70’s – but there is another bulge in the 50 to 60 age group, larger than them. If you are in that market, lucky you.

Third, you can spend less on marketing and achieve more. Most travel businesses throw two things at marketing – money and people. Money on PPC and online advertising, and people to run processes that could be automated. Nearly every client we have worked with was leaving money on the table – by not converting enough of their enquirers and not getting the amount of repeat business they deserve.

"We know they deserve more because we track their NPS (Net Promoter Scores) – we know their customers love them, are loyal and would recommend them enthusiastically – but they’re not doing this to the extent they might".

Roy Barker, Director of Spike Insight

Divert some of your marketing budget to making your data work for you and you will reap the benefits for years to come. Be a business that relies on repeat business and customer referrals more than on ‘buying’ bookings. And automate your marketing – do it once then repeat and enhance.


About the Author

Roy Barker is the co-founder and Director of Spike Insight, a consultancy that uses data and technology to help travel businesses increase revenues by improving customer experience.

Previously Director of Decision Science at Carlson Marketing Group, Roy has a wealth of experience in data analysis and market research.


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