WTM: No-frills Business Class Causing a Stir

Caroline Cook, deputy editor of our sister publication, Routes News, reports from the World Travel Market in London.

The fourth industry report from the World Travel Market (WTM) provides insight into upcoming trends in the UK tourism industry.

The report was based on a survey of more than 1,000 senior industry executives and was backed up by a further survey of 1,000 UK holidaymakers.

Presented by the BBC’s Stephen Sackur, the report comprises six chapters: industry optimism; the Olympics; aviation; emerging markets; travel resources; and UK trends.

The panel comprised JLS Consulting’s John Strickland; Caroline Bremner, head of travel and tourism research at Euromonitor International; and Paul Richer, senior partner at Genesys.

The report shows that the Olympics has led to a thriving UK industry, causing tourism executives to have high hopes for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

While 18% of UK holidaymakers claim they are more likely to visit Rio de Janeiro for the next Games, Bremner disagreed.

She said that Euromonitor research showed that only 5% of UK tourists would actually make the trip, visitors of the next Olympics would mainly come from Portugal and Brazil’s neighbouring countries, such as Chile.

No-frills business class was high on the list of the aviation chapter, with 87% of executives expecting the concept to go global.

It was also found that 60% of UK holidaymakers would pay up to £350 extra for the special treatment, leading Sackur to quip, “Michael O’Leary, are you listening?”

However, Strickland believes that this is unlikely and that passengers would not pay that much for the extra experience.

Issues surrounding the UK’s airport capacity were also covered. The report found that 47% of industry members fear London will lose its position as a major hub, even it does gain extra capacity.

With major expansion work being undertaken in big cities like Dubai and Istanbul, 40% of industry leaders back development at Heathrow, while one in three holidaymakers are undecided.

Strickland said he takes the same view as IAG’s Willie Walsh and is concerned that the Airports Commission will provide a great report, but may not make any difference to capacity issues.

“Airlines are looking to make a profit, and if they don’t find it in the UK, then they will go elsewhere,” he warned.

Further discussion about the UK industry look at the APD tax. While 45% of the industry fear a slight decrease in traffic to and from the UK, a fifth of executives believe the effect will be severe.

This is backed up by 39% of UK holidaymakers, who say they will consider only short-haul trips next year due to the rise in tax.

Elsewhere in the world, the WTM report claims China is the most important emerging market, despite 29% of executives believing the BRIC economies are not important to their businesses. Asia is still viewed as “the next tourism hotspot”.

Sackur also explained the development of travel resources, describing how an astonishing 27% of holidaymakers trust websites such as TripAdvisor more than personal recommendations from family or friends.

Richer said: “Technology is now powering customer service. If your company is lousy, people now have the ability to find you out.”

Continuing on the customer service front, Strickland commented: “You need to find the balance of taking away the hassle of travel, but keeping the human touch for the passenger.”

There is also slight concern around international tourism from the UK, with holidaymakers preferring the idea of a “staycation” in 2014 instead of a trip across borders.

This article was produced for Routesonline by the editorial team at our the world air service development magazine, Routes News and first appeared on their site.  For more information please click here:

Caroline Cook, deputy editor of our sister publication, Routes News, reports from the World Travel Market in London.

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