My favourite quotes from this year's travel convention were Peter Long of TUI UK who said: "my crystal ball is as cloudy as everyone else's" and Micky Arison of Carnival who rather modestly deflected requests for predictions by saying "I'm not an economist I sell cruises."
I like the final comment from a man who has a mere 93 ships and 8 million guests a year and who is also rather disingenuous. Of course he has to consider the impact of the future economy and consumer attitudes to spending.
Whether we continue to squirrel savings away or begin to spend within our means is the question everyone is asking as they plan for 2010. It doesn't help of course that the canny consumer is flirting with sellers by researching longer and then buying later than ever before.
But some of the predictions we heard were also distinctly cloudy. I personally do think we're facing a longer period of consumer caution than some. While the city may be emerging from recession it's always based on the future and so is six months ahead of the rest of us mere mortals. The single fact that unemployment will continue to rise next year is enough to strike caution into those working but worried if their job is safe. If we assume we'll see a new government in Spring with a mandate to cut costs to claw us out of debt, how light will that increased tax burden be and will it mean a slower climb than some hope?
Price Waterhouse Coopers presented some very strong statistics showing that consumers are now in a different mindset. Their research shows that 8 out 10 people who have traded down are happy with their new purchasing. Customers also commented that they expected some of their buying habits to be changed permanently. PWC used this as evidence of a structural change in the industry.
But I sat in the audience thinking: "what is permanent?" I'm sure the people answering the researcher's questions think now they may change their buying habits permanently. But ask the same question again next year and it will be different. Don't get me wrong. I do think our buying habits have changed and will remain changed for a very long time. But I worry when broad claims are made about permanent change. As any marketer will tell you (with thanks to Philip Kotler) - markets change faster than marketing.
I had a thoroughly enjoyable time sending Twitter messages from the conference (@bgbcomms). If you have the patience to read my responses throughout the convention read the notes below (from the bottom up)
- The sun is shining in Barcelona. I must come back for a proper city break2:35 AM Oct 9th
- Board of a champagne company has visited Kent to consider buying land to hedge themselves against climate change3:20 PM Oct 8th
- 80 Minute MBA authors say they think every MBA course will major on sustainability in next five years3:15 PM Oct 8th
- Frustrating to hear Peter Long say TUI has been banging its head against a brick wall with government. APD is wrong.2:22 PM Oct 8th
- "my crystal ball is as blurred as everyone else's' Peter Long when asked to predict for 20102:16 PM Oct 8th
- Peter Long talking about Russia opportunity. 190 million population. 7 million already travel. Its already snowing in Moscow.2:04 PM Oct 8th
- Peter Long has been to Russia 14 times and will work with a local partner to build tour op and retailing capability2:02 PM Oct 8th
- Very interesting to hear TUI thinks CIS markets could become the size of UK and German business2:01 PM Oct 8th
- Nice moment as Peter Long praises the leading entrepreneurs in travel such as Noel Josephides and Justin Flemming.1:54 PM Oct 8th
- Peter Long; "the pain will be ongoing...when worlds economy revives oil prices will rise."1:46 PM Oct 8th
- Peter Long of Tui is about to present1:40 PM Oct 8th
- Microsoft research of 18 to 24 yr olds. 73 per cent watch video clips every month.11:12 AM Oct 8th
- Interesting to see proof of concept Microsoft's "looking glass" social media monitoring tool that can also be opened up to API11:00 AM Oct 8th
- Audience intake of breathe -45percent of 18-24 year olds time online is on social networks. Microsoft Research10:53 AM Oct 8th
- 76 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds regularly forward links and product info says Microsoft10:52 AM Oct 8th
- Caroline of Microsoft; "content is a gift you can give to friends"10:48 AM Oct 8th
- Microsoft Research shows 94 pc of touch points before purchase are given no credit for conversion. We only evaluate "last click"10:45 AM Oct 8th
- Adam Winterflood MD of Travelbuddy just said: "I get texts from school about coach delays. Why doesn't travel do this more widely?"10:37 AM Oct 8th
- I love the new ABTA member travelbuddy service. In an emergency texts from FCO to give people up to date information.10:35 AM Oct 8th
- Mel Carson of Microsoft Advertising says he's always asked "will this be the year of mobile?"10:32 AM Oct 8th
- Specific Media also challenge audience about definition of behavioural targeting. Don't confuse with contextual (serve a10:28 AM Oct 8th
- Good tips from Ian Dowds of Specific Media -make sure your network reaches at least 75 per cent of population. Size matters.10:24 AM Oct 8th
- At an "Innovative Thinking" seminar. Astounded I am only one of five people in a packed room that said they use behavioural targeting10:13 AM Oct 8th
- Where is the role for shipping or ferry travel in Forum for the Future's scenarios?9:46 AM Oct 8th
- Final future scenario "Carbon clampdown" assumes carbon concern in a sluggish economy. Domestic holidays boom.9:41 AM Oct 8th
- Scenario 3 "price and privilege. Imagine oil at 300 dollars a barrel. Travel preserve of few or travelling overland9:33 AM Oct 8th
- Scenario 2 -"Divided disquiet" envisions a world where people are frightened to travel . Development of "doomsday tourism"9:31 AM Oct 8th
- Scenario 1 "Boom and burst"- imagine a post-recession, low-carbon travel world. Booming but overcrowded.9:26 AM Oct 8th
- James Goodman Head of Futures Forum for the Future at Travel Conventions about to present "scenarios" we may face.9:17 AM Oct 8th
- Interesting PWC views that consumer mindset and buying habits will change permanently. More time researching needs new communications11:50 AM Oct 7th
- Price Waterhouse Cooper - half of all travellers spent more time researching and buying their holiday.11:41 AM Oct 7th
- PWC research - when people trade down 86 per cent say they think the quality of what they buy is the same.10:25 AM Oct 7th
- PWC research indicates more permanent consumer changes _85 per cent will continue to look for special offers10:22 AM Oct 7th
- Unified comments from CEOs of businesses like Morrisons and Holiday Inn predicting people will continue to value shop in a recession.10:18 AM Oct 7th
- When Aldi launched, mainstream grocery retailers lost 1 per cent margin. Is this now happening again in retailing?10:14 AM Oct 7th
- 1972 Carnival had one ship -now have 93. Mickys best advice "hire great people and let them do their job."9:58 AM Oct 7th
- Jeremy Vine asks Micky Arison if he gets "ship envy" when he sees larger ships
- Carnival carries 8 million guests a year 9:48 AM Oct 7th
- Last Sept Carnival was an A- company and "nobody would lend us a dime" Micky Arison. Situation now transformed9:44 AM Oct 7th
- Micky deftly avoids question about largest ship in world (tip not a Carnival brand)9:39 AM Oct 7th
- Micky Arison chairman and CEO if Carnival Corporation is up next. Jeremy Vine has just called him a "titan" of the industry9:38 AM Oct 7th
- 2023 presentation tomorrow will present "scenarios we want to avoid" to challenge us to plan for sustainable future industry9:32 AM Oct 7th
- Mark Tanzer "future is still fraught with uncertainty, but we've avoided meltdown"9:28 AM Oct 7th
- Mark Tanzer of ABTA "anecdotal evidence travel industry is down around 10 per cent but margins stronger because of aggressive trading"9:27 AM Oct 7th
- Richard Carrick of Hoseasons has accused travel industry of having its head in the sand with predictions back to normal next year.9:22 AM Oct 7th
- Jeremy Vine is giving a very cheery review of economic and travel woes of past year9:16 AM Oct 7th
- Barcelona balmy dawn. Now sitting in cool convention hall waiting for kick off9:07 AM Oct 7th
- Barcelona however has given us fine skies, gentle breezes and tapas in the sunshine12:33 AM Oct 7th
- Gatwick Airport let the travel industry down earlier today. I have never seen such long queues through passport control.12:32 AM Oct 7th
- Off to Travel Convention in Barcelona this week. What will the mood be like this year..?