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Travel Monthly Review - Business Travel, Consumer Spend, RyanAir & OTAs: February

Updated: Feb 29



In February episode we look at:


  • Industry news of the last month and consumer spending change

  • What’s RyanAir’s change of strategy?

  • Our feature discussion is on Business Travel and we’ll hear from Clive Wratten, Chief Exec of Business Travel Association

  • Industry developments and consumer trends talking about shoulder seasons and the best snaps

  • Finishing with the quick quiz. Will won last month, has he brought his A-Game this month?

 

Featuring Will Plummer (CEO, Trust My Group), Claire Steiner (UK Director, Global Travel and Tourism Partnership), and James Clarke (General Manager, Travelzoo UK), 


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Industry News


  • Deloitte Consumer Tracker - consumers intend to spend less across nine out of 11 leisure categories in Q1 2024, with an exception being the long and short holiday categories.

  • The majority of consumers (57%) intending to travel abroad on a holiday are likely to book all-inclusive trips, 

  • 60% of consumers are expecting to take a domestic holiday in 2024.

 

  • AI technology that allows customers and travel agents to easily read through the terms and conditions of their insurance documents.

  • Over half (55%) said they did not read it properly, with a quarter (24%) admitting to only skimming them, while 28% only refer to a brief online summary and 3% not reading it whatsoever.  

  • Despite the increase in extreme weather and events caused by climate change last summer, three quarters (74%) assumed their insurance would automatically cover impact on their travel caused by natural disasters, while 68% assumed it covered disruption from strike activity. 

 

  • Typical hours men worked dropped from 36.3 hours in 2019 to 32.5 hours in 2020. Working hours for 2022 were 35.3 hours, the most recent year available, the Office for National Statistics said

  • Millennial men working shorter work hours have contributed to labour shortages equivalent to 310,000 fewer people in employment, official figures show.

  • This was reflected among women in the same age group, who saw a 0.02 hours per week rise.

RYANAIR NEWS

Listen to more episodes of the hospitality industry podcast Travel Market Life and subscribe for the latest news at http://travelmarket.life/

Listen to more episodes of the hospitality industry podcast Travel Market Life and subscribe for the latest news at http://travelmarket.life/


Programme Notes


This episode has been automatically transcribed by AI, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors


Ryan Haynes:

Hello and welcome to the Travel Monthly Review Show February 2024 edition. You are now part of an award-recognized podcast as Travel Market Life becomes a finalist in the European Content Awards 2024. To follow us closely, subscribe to our newsletter on www Travel Market Life or join our LinkedIn page. We've just put ourselves forward for the International Hospitality Institute, Awards for the podcast category. So, we welcome any nominations from you and reviews and ratings of the show on your podcast channel. Write enough for my shameless publicity back to the review show where we look at some industry pressing issues and the landscape in front of us getting insider knowledge from our expert panel of Claire Steiner, Will Plummer, and James Clarke.

 

Ryan Haynes:

In this episode, we'll be looking at industry news of the last month, what's Ryanair's change of strategy? Our future discussion is on Business Travel and we'll hear from the Chief Executive of the Business Travel Association. The industry developments and consumer trends Before this fast-paced podcast, we test our panellist knowledge in the quick quiz. Will won last month. Has he got his A-game today? I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. Let's get on with the show.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Hello. Hello. Hello, Will, thanks for coming back to us. How are things going over your side? Yeah,

 

Will Plummer:

Man, it starts the year, but all really positive, you know, lots of great things happening I think across the industry and obviously we're going to touch on some of the stories today. But yeah, we're flat out busy loving it. Great to see everyone traveling again and you know, everything working well.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Excellent, wonderful. Fantastic. Claire Steiner, you are here back with us as well and you've been busy.

 

Claire Steiner:

I have indeed. Yes. Not as busy, I think as the bookings have been in January, which has been fantastic to see. And I have to say my, all of my clients are, are buzzing actually. And I think this is hopefully a really great sign for this year, for 2024. Yeah, it's been busy in, in my world, in HR lots going on in the employment law world that I need to kind of get my head around and also doing some of my future u events at universities around the country. So, yeah, busy for me as well. And what traditionally actually is quieter because all my clients are busy selling holidays, so

 

Ryan Haynes:

That's good. I mean, you were in Sheffield as well, weren't you, for a few events, and you heard something quite interesting about the Nudge theory.

 

Claire Steiner:

Yeah, it absolutely fascinating. So, we were very lucky with some pretty good speakers at the event, and the nudge theory is all around how you can influence behaviours and consumer behaviours in this case to change habits and that's in a corporate sense. So, this actually was the Compass Group and a really interesting presentation on how they have, using the nudge theory without preaching helped change their consumers to a healthier lifestyle, which has obvious benefits anyway. But for them, one of the biggest benefits they've seen is a massive reduction in their food waste. And as we know the, the well the catering industry, that side of it is a huge contributor to, to the carbon issues much bigger than aviation.

 

Claire Steiner:

So yeah, it was really, really good, really interesting. And that was just something I hadn't heard and something I'm now very much looking into. So, the nudge theory, have a look, read it up, find out about it.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Now over to James Clarke who's just dragged himself in from another award ceremony.

 

James Clarke:

Hmm. Another week, another awards.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Where were you? Where were you and how did it go?

 

James Clarke:

Well, hi Ryan. Yeah, last night I was at the Carnival Cruise Awards at the beautiful HAC building in London. So, the artillery house, it was a wonderful event, lots of, lots of success to be appreciated from everything from recognizing the top cruise agents all the way through to the rising stars of the industry. So, a wonderful evening and a huge thanks to Carnival for putting on a very, very nice evening.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. And now, by the way, this is recorded and then it's sent out a week later, but you know, you are going to be going to a red-carpet event as well.

 

James Clarke:

I am. Do you know, I'm going to start getting a reputation on this podcast?

 

James Clarke:

One another week, another week, another event. And you know, one of the joys of working with Travelzoo is some of our partnerships and we do across the year, we do a couple of media partnerships with film productions. And we're very fortunate to be lined up with another wonderful British film. It features the Oscar winning, I believe Olivia Coleman. And she's going to be featured in a film called Wicked Little Lies, which is a true story based upon some wicked pin letters were wr, which were written in a village in the UK. And yes, it's, should we say it's a little bit of a cheeky comedy and yeah, Tuesday night I'll be going to the premier of that.

 

James Clarke:

So, spending some time with all the celebs,

 

Ryan Haynes:

He's going to become an a-list and he is not going to be one to be part of this show before too long. He will, eh,

 

Will Plummer:

Yeah, that sounds about right. He just needs to get him, you know, his walk, right?

 

James Clarke:

No, look, yesterday I was changing the night bulbs in my office. All right, so there's highs and lows. Yeah,

 

Ryan Haynes:

Right. Coming up next, is the industry news, Travel Market Life. Okay. So we've been looking at some of the industry news from the last month, and this is where we get a chance to pick a few stories that really have grabbed our attention and is potentially, you know, having an impact on the actual industry. Obviously, data is always a big thing, right? We always like to see what trend data is coming out and what people are saying. Now, Deloitte, Consumer Tracker has shared that consumers are like our cutting spending, but not necessarily within travel. So, consumers intend to spend less across nine out of 11 leisure categories in the Q one of 2024, except for long and short holidays categories.

 

Ryan Haynes:

So that's obviously great for the industry, but what do you think we need to be mindful of as an industry when consumers are actually cutting back so much in other areas?

 

Will Plummer:

Look, I think it's really promising for the industry. It's fantastic to see, especially after sort of the hardship of the last few years. I do, and I'm a cynic and I'm a cynic on the panel, but I do urge a bit of caution, you know, looking at the year ahead with elections here, elections in the US with events that are happening around the world, you know, trouble in the Middle East in Ukraine, obviously, will it last forever? I do think, you know, make the Haigh while the sun is shining fantastic, but just, I would just urge caution and one of the things we harp on about in terms of financial protection and structuring a business is actually planning for a downturn, making sure your business is in a healthy position for the long term so it can survive that downturn.

 

Will Plummer:

Absolutely. This is a time to, to profit and to do well and to support your customers, serve your customers well because repeat customers are the easiest customers to win and they will come back to you. But just don't get too carried away. Make sure you build in the foundations, putting a structure in in place to really make sure your business is sustainable.

 

Ryan Haynes:

I mean, so one of the interesting parts about the Deloitte, Consumer Tracker was the fact that more people are perhaps looking towards all-inclusive trips. So that is still raining on their spending, isn't it?

 

Will Plummer:

Yeah, absolutely. And it, it makes a lot of sense, you know, exactly to that point. So, I think you're seeing a, a slight shift in terms of trends and, how they are spending their money. To your point, and look, it's fantastic. I don't want to be doom and gloom, this is a real positive for the industry, but just make sure that you're putting yourself sustainable together for your own business.

 

James Clarke:

I agree with what Will saying we have to be cautious this year. There's lots of big events that can very quickly on the flick of a coin change the direction of the industry. But right now, you know, January has been a fantastic month for so many operators. February is continuing in that vein. We want to ensure in this marketplace that our customers and members alike are all getting exactly what they're looking for and they feel protected in what they're booking. But this kind of need for travel is not going away. People are booking not just one holiday, it's multiple holidays.

 

James Clarke:

So, in, if we look back over periods in the past where we have been in slightly stickier economic situations or there's been volatile volatility in the market, what you've volatility, shall I say, in the market, pardon me, what you will see is that the downturn has actually been a lot stickier. This downturn hasn't been very sticky, in fact because of the events of the last few years, it seems that it's back and it's back with quite a form of an aggression. You know, my parents got back from a cruise on Saturday, I saw them a few days later and the first thing they said to me is, right, where are we off to next, James? We were thinking, doing Alaska, do you think you could help us? Like that is the mindset of particularly the older generation in the UK and I've been at obviously two destination events now, and every generally every person whom I'm speaking to over the age of 55 has more than at least two or three holidays booked or are looking to go on at least two or three holidays this year.

 

James Clarke:

And that doesn't seem to be slowing down.

 

Ryan Haynes:

I mean, it's an interesting time and you can check out our other Monthly podcast, the Hospitality version that has just come out. And we were looking at sort of rates and patterns of booking and one of a couple of conversations I've had within hospitality, particularly with C for UK operators, is that they're seeing the booking window reduce slightly, but they're also seeing an increase in a number of refundable or can or, or, or bookings that can be cancelled rather than the non-refundable one. So, people are certainly being more cautious, they're wanting that more, much more flexibility in some of their bookings, particularly for their staycations within the, within our domestic market. So, it'll be interesting sort of the, certainly to see how things play out from these travels abroad because obviously it was something that was missing particularly for a couple of years over to a holiday operator here.

 

Ryan Haynes:

So, holiday EXTRAS has launched a new AI tool after it revealed, 55% of travellers don't read insurance documentation properly, and 55% said they did not read it properly. Any of us guilty of doing that, yes. All three raise their hands. It's so confusing and complex half the time and when you open the T&Cs, doesn't it feel like it just goes on forever that when we get to the end you just realize that when you get to the end, you wish you hadn't even read it in the first place? Because you realize it doesn't actually cover you for anything.

 

James Clarke:

No Ryan, do you think we should challenge will on that? Bearing in mind this is his area of expertise, why are the terms and conditions so long and convoluted will, and

 

Claire Steiner:

Let's just talk about the fine print as well please that.

 

James Clarke:

And why does the font have to be so small? Will yes,

 

Will Plummer:

Because no one wants to read 30 pages honestly.

 

Ryan Haynes:

So, make it look like five.

 

Will Plummer:

So, make it exactly, fit it all into one size, two font and you're definitely, it's much more aesthetically pleasing. Look, I think it is a really serious point and I do, one of the things I always push for and talk about in terms of terms and conditions is transparency. The reason it's so long-winded is to be quite honest that lawyers get involved and they want to cover off every single point. But whether it be terms and conditions, whether it be insurance policies, I think the companies that do best on it are the ones that actually highlight some of the key points around it. You know, actually be honest with the customer, tell them what's going on and, and that's, you know, that's what we try and do. I'm sure some customers might think differently, but we want to be clear about what's going to pay out, what's not going to pay out, you know, where cancellation kicks in.

 

Will Plummer:

You know, you talked about non-refundable terms a minute ago from the sorry, refundable terms in terms of what's coming in trend now, you know, let's spell it out for people. Let's make it really simple. The small font long document is not going to go away. The lawyers of the world are just not going to allow that to happen because insurers want to be covered. Lawyers want to protect, you know, the travel companies themselves. But let's spell out, let's put headlines in terms of the key points around it. I am guilty of not reading the documentation. I do kind of, I'm a little bit blase about it, but if you don't want to get caught out, you should.

 

Will Plummer:

And, and that's the truth of the matter. And I think, you know, holiday extras should be rewarded for trying to use technology to make it simpler. I mean, that's what the likes of AI can be used for and I think it's a great initiative.

 

Claire Steiner:

I have to agree with you Will. Actually, what I'd also say is that I think the problem is a lot of people and I, and, and I put my hand up quite rightly so, but that's until something goes wrong. And then when something goes wrong, suddenly you're really aware. And so, and luckily for me it wasn't a huge thing that went wrong, but now I'm absolutely religious in making sure that any insurance I have, I'm covered to what I need it to be covered to. And I think that's the sad thing. And one thing I've also found out over the years working within particular sort of tour operator travel companies that sell insurance as a part of the package that a lot of sounds terrible and this, I'm going back 20 years when I first saw this happen, and it's not so bad now, a lot of the sort of the younger people that tend to be at the frontline don't really, they have that kind of bravado and they don't see as necessarily that the sort of the needs for insurance and themselves and standard.

 

Claire Steiner:

So, I think there's a, there's a massive requirement and that it has got a lot better of why travel companies need to train their staff in how to sell insurance properly and getting them to understand what that means to the customer. And the customer therefore has more faith in that travel company as well. So, I know you can go out and buy it separately, but actually, for me, we need to do more around getting, you know, getting the, the, the companies that are selling it as, as I said, as an extra to really understand the benefits and what it means.

 

James Clarke:

And from all my time, both being as a tour operator and then being involved with ABTA and even in my role now, one of the other things which I'm sure Will, would agree is cheapest is not always the best. Yeah. And unfortunately, in a price-driven market, consumers fall for the trick of, well that must be fine because it's cheap. You know, it's tat he cheapest on the market whereas something like insurance is the complete polar opposite. You should be looking for your inclusions looking which benefits and what EXTRAS are covered and don't come with extra charges. And that is the role of a, if it's a sales agent, se selling insurance or the role of the salesperson in a retail shop, or it is the education point of the consumer.

 

James Clarke:

So, if they're on a meta site they know what they're looking for because one thing I've ever, ever been very, very clear with, which is for the insurance, cheapest is not the best.

 

Will Plummer:

Yeah, look, I think it's a challenge across any insurance. You know, it's especially a challenge when the operator themselves is selling it or referring it because that's an ancillary revenue and you know, it's not necessarily their job to go out and find the best insurance for every single person in the world because it just varies by, you know, what you actually need, what you, what your age bracket is. I find it quite interesting looking at how I view house insurance or pet insurance and how I want specific things in those. I want to look at what the excess is. Whereas travel insurance, I think I still get it with my bank, I need to double check actually for this year.

 

Will Plummer:

But you know, I, I'm, I seem to care less about that in terms of those bits. But if you're going on a longer trip, especially a high-value trip, especially if there isn't as accessible medical cover as you might want or might be used to, you really have to do your research on this. And it's down to the individual on this. It's not down to the company that is selling you a holiday to actually do that because different people's circumstances affect the price of insurance and affect what you actually need. So do, do your homework and do have a bit more care than I seem to.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, I mean my parents have just returned from a bit of a mini world trip and what they just said to me recently is that they think their travel insurance was not in void because they just discovered that their insurance only covered them for a one destination trip and they never understood or never knew. You know, it's, again, it's that awareness or understanding that just because you have travel insurance doesn't mean that you can hop skip around the world and it actually covers you. But then I also look at sort of how you claim, so my pet insurance for example, I pushed it all online. It was very quick, very fast. And if you want a claim, you've got to go to their website, you've got to download a piece of paper, you've got to print it out, you've got to fill it in, you've got to send it, go to the vet, you've got to get them to sign it and then you've got to post it.

 

Ryan Haynes:

And you're thinking in this digital world, what more can you make it more difficult for us to actually make a claim on the insurance? So, it also, as you say, I think it is, it is down as well to sort of like how, what sort of product do you want and, and what works for you. And you need to look at not just the convenience of buying, but the convenience of being able to claim and, and whether you're actually going to claim anything back depending on the excess. And I, I think we're all responsible for educating and, and, and I, I'm, I'm, I'm pleased with what Holiday EXTRAS is doing here, using AI to help customers and travel agents navigate the, the insurance policies to be able to read those terms and conditions right over to another story.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Now this is about, you know, we, we've mentioned a boost in sales this year and that we've already seen nearly 40% of the total of summer 2023 being booked. That is particularly the comments from in tele travel UK Greece continuing to climb in popularity apparently with Jet two.com and Jet two holidays confirming that they've massively increased the capacity for their program to Greece. Is that on anyone's wish list for this year? Looking at hopping over to the islands?

 

Claire Steiner:

I could do shameless plug because the ITT conference is in Greece this year, so I am, I'm and I'm absolutely, and I, we we're talking about Business Travel, but I'm going to take advantage of my, of the pleasure much as I hate that word and I'm going out early to, to have a bit of fun out in Greece and see more of that area where we're going in c Monica, which I've not been to before.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Excellent, lovely. Now a story, really a people story here there, Claire, this one designed specifically for you. I think Millennial men in the UK are helping drive a trend of falling working hours. So typical hours work pre the pandemic worth 36.3 hours. in 2020 it dropped to 32 and a half and now it's around 35.3 hours. So, it's down about one hour in a working week. We see apparently, according to the national Statistics, that the average hourly increase for women on a weekly raise weekly week, week wise was not point, not two hours. What do you think is happening here in regards to sort of working trends then between men and women and their perception of their role in the workplace?

 

Claire Steiner:

Well, I have to be quite careful at that. I'm the only woman on this panel and I could start the whole thing about women have always worked longer hours anyway, whether they're at work or not, but I won't say that.

 

Claire Steiner:

I actually think it's really interesting. So for me it, listen, the, the whole Millennial thing, I think that you know, we, and I, we said it at the last podcast, there has this, there's this, this sort of trend in businesses thinking about the next generation and what they want to do and how they want to work and they want to work their hours and their own time and the flexibility and the hybrid work and everything else. And we are, we are embracing that. But I also do think there's, there's a kickback coming. So, I think there's been a little bit too much of we, we'll give them what they want and not necessarily what's good for our business. So, and, and I'm being maybe a bit generic here, but actually for me, for me, the interesting thing is that, and it is a very small increase in the, the women at work hours working.

 

Claire Steiner:

And I do think that's because the hybrid working does suit women better because of the, traditionally the women, nine times out 10 has the caring role at home needs to fit in around school hours or carers, you know, caring responsibilities. And actually, the high, the, the re the way that companies are now letting women work and more hybrids and more flexibly is actually encouraging more women back into the workplace doing longer hours. So I think we will, I'm hoping we'll see an increase in that. We need to get more women back into the workplace. There's no doubt about it. You know, we've spoken about the reduction in in number of people coming into the, all the industries, let alone our, so it's, it's a really interesting thing.

 

Claire Steiner:

I think the reduction in men's ads, I think that'll stabilize and might even go up again. But I'd like to see women in the workplace. I'd like to see that continue to increase. Because I think that's a really positive thing.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Wonderful, thank you. Right. Moving on to another industry story now and its brand related. We are just focusing on one company here that Will had a particular perspective on this. So, Ryanair, finally opened up their distribution channels, a new deal, not just with one OTA Love Holidays, but with two OTAs kiwi.com. What's going on?

 

Will Plummer:

I think this is really interesting and I probably think a little bit differently to some other people because I think OTAs are always thought, well, I have a right to book low-cost airlines, and I'm not sure that was ever the low-cost model. They wanted to sell direct, they wanted to control the flight, they didn't really care about anything else. Obviously subsequent to that, they've kind of all built their own HOLIDAY divisions. Easy. Jet HOLIDAY obviously is going from strength to strength at the moment, but end of last year, Rhine Air had a real attack on the so-called screen scraping site. So, where OTAs are sort of putting a cover over the top of the Rhine Air flight to enable Ryanair website to enable people to book flights.

 

Will Plummer:

Ryanair shut it down, numbers dropped off for everybody and we all thought that was the end, you know, Ryanair calling OTAs Pirates and you know, not good for the industry. And now these two deals have happened and I, I applaud it. I think it's very good. I know people have come out and said different things, but there was one article I read and they were complaining about, I can't remember the package, but the, the, the first deal was Love holidays. So essentially you can book a Ryanair flight as part of your Love holidays package. All the data now gets passed to Ryanair, you can now book your seat, add your baggage, et cetera, on the Ryanair website directly.

 

Will Plummer:

So that's given Ryanair what they wanted, which was control over the data. But now Love Holidays have also got access to these flights, which make up a large part of their inventory. And there were complaints that I, I think on average it was 50 pounds for a couple extra versus paying for a flight on its own, a comparable flight on its own on the Rhino website. Like I, I don't have a problem with that. I think actually, you know, you couldn't then go and find the comparable hotel package, you know, for the same money that love holidays are probably offering it out. So, the package price actually comes out cheaper and better for you. You obviously get you at all protection over the whole trip.

 

Will Plummer:

And I think there's, there's great benefit to that. And I think the deal that's been done should be applauded. I don't think this will be the first, obviously Kiwi's deal is a little bit different. Kiwi is more the sort of search engine putting together these interlinked trips, but they've both worked really hard in terms of giving both parties what they want. Ryanair wanted the control, wanted the data, and I think when you're talking about an airline, that's probably fair enough provided they meet their responsibilities around refunds, safety, consumer responsibility, and the OTAs getting the, you know, getting that flight lift that they need to be able to provide well priced trip to their clients.

 

Will Plummer:

And I think we'll see more; I think it will develop further and I am very positive about it.

 

Ryan Haynes:

This comes to the end of our new section and we're going to move over to our feature topic on Business, Travel Market Life. So, our feature topic for February is Business Travel. I had the opportunity to speak to Clive Wratten: the chief executive of the Business Travel Association, to first find out what are the trends that he's seeing in Business Travel

 

Clive Wratten:

I think what we have seen is business travellers really getting back, doing longer trips away rather than quick round trips. Two reasons for that. One, is clearly from a sustainability perspective, and the other is really around cost and time and wellness of the individuals. So yeah, there's definitely a trend to longer trips. And I dare I say it blended with some leisure time. I'm never going to use the word that as being counter that because it just sticks in my gut. But, so yeah, that's really positive. We are back to pretty much close to where we were pre pandemic in terms of revenues, you know, depending on who you read anywhere between sort of 85 to 95% of where we were in 2019.

 

Clive Wratten:

But the interesting underlying fact under that right now is that that is really driven by yield or cost increase. So, passenger numbers are slightly down, but yield and the cost of everything, as we all know in our daily lives has gone up. So there, there is a higher cost of everything resulting in that revenue figure being close to than maybe the passenger figures were to the pre-pandemic levels. But, so that's strong, certainly a trend towards premium travel, bizarrely enough if you look at it that way. But again, that links to wellness and what we've learned out of Covid and business travel corporations who very important about the duty of care and wellbeing of their employees are really looking at that.

 

Clive Wratten:

And a shift to premium economy, which is a, a relatively probably that's been around quite a long time, but really beginning to gather momentum in the aviation space. So that's quite interesting. And whether that will continue, I think the, the future of 2024 really reflects that. The issues are that, you know, sadly we have a lot of global instability and that always puts a question mark on what could or might not happen. But I think we also have the, you know, the cost increase is a concern for Business Travel that that's going to impact at some point. And particularly in hotels. And I don't know if you, you've tried to get a hotel in London, for example, at the moment you just can't get anything under about 300 pounds a night. We were even trying to book a, what was called a, a budget chain, and it was over 300 pounds a night at a peak period.

 

Clive Wratten:

And, and that, you know, it spells good for a short term, but the longer term, in my opinion, that spells that either, you know, there's going to be a bit of crash in pricing or the market will slow down by passengers not, or sorry, people staying in hotels. So, there's some interesting trends out there from that perspective. But overall, the trend is back and I just have to say, sorry, the next question is, it's really important that we get the message out that traveling for work is not just about people traveling for meetings. It's going to fix things; it's going to play sport. It's, it's a lot of things. So, there's, you know, it's not, you can't replace all of that because it's not a meeting as we are chatting over a, a video call today, you know, physically it has to happen.

 

Clive Wratten:

So, we, we need to make sure that Business Travel is both, you know, terms be priced but also gets a return on the investment.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Now that was the interview with Clive Wratten: and that will be available in just over a week after this podcast on Travel Market Life, the extended interview where we dive deeper into some of the trends and what the Business Travel Association is doing now in the latest global Business Travel Association poll, nearly 60% of travel buyers expect more travel in the coming year with two-thirds anticipating increases in Business Travel spend. There's also been Over half have revamped their employee travel policies. Uber also found that rising costs were obviously impacting the higher travel budgets as well as the need for organizations to consider ESG requirements with over four in five intending to bolster support for employees to choose lower carbon Business Travel options in 2024 and 48% expecting to increase the use of rail travel.

 

Ryan Haynes:

And believe it or not, that survey obviously came from Trainline. So over to Will Claire and James Business, Travel, what we've just heard from Clive, some of those stats and insights there that we're seeing in the industry, is it, how are you seeing it within your businesses perhaps and, and, and how you're sort of supporting the industry as a whole over to James who does obviously quite a bit of Business, Travel and, and likes his award ceremonies, et cetera.

 

James Clarke:

Thank you, Ryan. So, I think the first point I wanted to pick up on is a, something that Clive pointed out, which is the cost to stay in particular places like London now and midweek travel and accommodation has rocketed. He's, he's completely right, it's gone up vastly. We're actually working with the Liverpool and as at the moment has beautiful five-star property. And the promotion that we are running is for the weekend because Monday to Thursday it, it's extremely, they're basically 90 odd per cent occupancy. It's a high yield, they get a good a DR the price that we have on a Friday, Saturday, and Sundays half of that, which is Monday to Thursday.

 

James Clarke:

I think when you actually put that in kind of into a bit of a process and you think about that, how a London hotel could be half the cost at a weekend compared to what it is in the week because that is definitely is illustrating the return of business travellers, particularly in key pockets in London around financial institutions or large banks or investments where that, those travellers have returned quite quickly. If I look upon us internally at Travelzoo, our policy has changed in a few ways. First off, I, we are travelling less for business, we're being a lot more economical about how we travel. And what we've done is we've probably looked at Business, Travel, particularly between our offices with an ROI.

 

James Clarke:

So instead of maybe just flying to an office or train into, say for instance, me going to the Manchester office instead of going just there on a more regular basis, is it not better for me to maybe go there biweekly but overnight and stay and spend more time with the team, get more out of that visit where actually pre-pandemic and back in 2019, I was going to Manchester biweekly to spend time with the Manchester team, but I'm not doing that now. So, I am still traveling, but I'm making my, our time is probably better vested with the investment that we're putting into that travel. So, we will go for longer, we'll invest time with the people and stay and try to make it more productive because, for the general catchups, we are all fortunate that we've all embedded cameras and we can do team calls or Google, et cetera.

 

James Clarke:

The other thing that I would probably add from a global perspective that we've done last year, we held our first global event where we brought every single employee together, but instead of bringing it together just for a party, we spread it over a week and we had a pop-up office where we all worked together. So, to really maximize the value of bringing us all together. And this year we are, we are doing two of those. So, there's the, and the purpose of it is to bring all the global meetings that are having are, are being undertaken independently, but bringing them all together in one week and trying to reduce the costs of multiple travel trips into one trip.

 

James Clarke:

So, for us as a business, we definitely are looking at it very differently and both from a more sustainable set of eyes as well. So electric cars have been encouraged as our way to travel. So electric taxis, and train travel's being encouraged more. We're trying to cut down multiple flights. So, as us in the business we're, we are certainly trying to do a lot.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, I mean it's fascinating. I've been speaking, speaking to some of the hospitality and hotels about what's going on with their booking patterns and they're seeing an increase in corporate bookings are three or four people from the same company who clearly work remotely coming together for two or three days to work alongside each other within the hotel. And obviously with, with, with a lot of companies getting rid of their offices, there's that need for, for more regular mini-meetings to be happening. You, I mean the point about ROI now Amadeus report found that, you know, they're trying to maximize that investment by ensuring that travel has multiple objectives to a trip and looking at how you could have more blended itineraries as well.

 

Ryan Haynes:

And as you point out James, this focus around sort of sustainable travel strategies, will anything happen from Trust My Group, how are you looking at it and what's, what's important when it comes to deciding budgets and business travel?

 

Will Plummer:

Yeah, look, it's very similar to what James and Travelzoo are doing. You know, we are not travelling as frequently as we were. I mean 2019, you know, was a continual, you know, road trip around offices, meeting clients, whatever it may be. Obviously, that's more considered now and teams, Google, zoom, et cetera are all help for that, that quick meeting or whatever else. So, it, it's got to be meaningful. ROI is really important. We're also, you know, trying to be considerate, you know, Clive talks about it as well in terms of wellness, that slightly longer trip, you know, thinking about when you're sending someone away, how damaging it can be to go to the medium-long haul just for a couple of nights or something.

 

Will Plummer:

You know, actually we lose them for the entire week anyway in terms of, you know, that they're a little bit broken with time zones and travel, you know, so it's more, you know, it is a better use of money to actually look to build in. He's not going to, Clive wasn't prepared to say it, but pleasure. You know, just, just for them, just for, you know, the good of the staff and everything else. And I think wellness in, in everything we do, Claire can probably speak better than I can around that, but looking at staff wellness in, in everything that we do is such a critical part of things. And, and Business Travel is that we're probably spending the same but on less because, you know, it is more expensive yield to higher.

 

Will Plummer:

So, it's an interesting change. It's probably for the better. That's where we are right now, you know, who knows what's ahead of us.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Now Claire revamping policies has been a big thing. How have you been looking at that and what are companies really having to consider when it comes to, say, Will's point about well-being, ESG and everything else?

 

Claire Steiner:

Yeah, absolutely. I think all companies are completely reviewing and looking at what they're doing. Both James and, and will have said it very good in terms of maximizing time and, and exactly the reports were saying, the wellness thing is really interesting because yes, there is the pleasure that, that word again, aspect of it, but actually, you know, if we are going to maximize staff, they are going to potentially be going away for longer, which does have a higher impact on their wellness actually positively and negatively because that, you know, those, those trips up and down like James was saying to Manchester about that's really tiring, you know, I think we all found that, didn't we came out of lockdown, started travelling and we go my god, I've forgotten how tiring this was. I think what I'm, I'm seeing is there's much more budgetary control and sign-off, but it's more, in some respects a little bit more flexible.

 

Claire Steiner:

Because it's not one size fits all anymore. And that's what I'm seeing. So, it's good to have that kind of right. You know, if you are, if you are travelling for more than, if you're flying for more than four hours, then we can look at, you know, maybe putting you in premium economy or business class, but actually, you know, we'd expect, you know, if it would doing under four hours that you potentially will find economy. But actually, if you're doing that just for a day or two, isn't it better to maybe put them up to a premium economy so they have a better, you know, they're not quite so tired when they turn up? So, there's all those things to, to be taken into consideration around that. And also, you know, we used to do it very much at the sort of the level of the responsibilities they had as well and, you know, the stress levels that they were, they were going to be under whilst they were on the business.

 

Claire Steiner:

Again, that would depend on whether it would be, you know, a business class ticket versus a premium economy ticket. So, I'm seeing it, I'm seeing a lot of them questioning everything they've done. Some are saying, well, it still works for us and that's why we've always done it and the staff are happy with it and others are saying, no, we need to really take advantage. And I, and, and what's so great as we come out of the last few years is there is much more focus on the employer's duty of care to look after their staff's wellness. And we, I mean that's, you know, it's everywhere now and that's, that's a good thing. That can only be a good thing. But you need to have the rules in place and you need to make it very, you know, there needs to be flexibility in those rules, but you need to make it very clear, this is what our company's doing. But again, it is all about the bottom line and Will spoke earlier about, you know, protecting yourself for the future.

 

Claire Steiner:

And, and that's part of it is, is making sure that you know, your budgetary controls are in place and we're not all going, well, hey, we're all travelling again. Let's all just, you know, make hey where the sun shines. We've got to really rain it in and still think strategically about it. And that's what I'm saying.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'm used to being one of those that, you know, used to a 24-hour turnaround, same day flight in and out and you know, you, you sort of get up at three o'clock in the morning, get to the, get on the plane at six, you'd be on the plane again at six in the evening, you get back at 11pm, you jump in the car and you get back at three o'clock in the morning and, and you know, you'd be white for two or three days. Now I'm actually taking the moment to go, you know what, I'm going to arrive in the afternoon, the day before. I'm going to get a hotel. I'm going to get an evening hotel the next day and I'm going to leave the next morning. I'm going to give myself space to breathe because dear Lord, I'd lose my weekends if I don't. And I think we, we need to be more appreciative of that because I mean, if people did it in the 1950s, there's no reason why we can't do that today, is there, right,

 

Claire Steiner:

Absolutely. And as technology changes, you know, that even just having that time saying, I'll, I'll leave the next morning. Actually, the chances are you're probably going to be online doing a few emails from the airport or whatever anyway. Yeah. So, you know, I think that we, you're quite right and I think you, that's the right thing to do Ryan, and I think we are going to see more and more of that. But you know, at the end of the day it is potentially business trips for longer, making more of the time when they're there and the control on that spending. But actually, looking at the wellness and, and you, as I said, making sure that your staff aren't doing those ridiculously long days just to get to and from in one day, which we've all done

 

Ryan Haynes:

Alright, now we're going to look at some industry developments change in peak periods. So, shoulder peak periods are now really becoming popular apparently according, according to CN Traveler, there's been a dramatic increase in the shoulder season travel, particularly across Europe, France, Spain, the UK, and Italy, which is set to continue throughout this year with travel specialists seeing 14% more bookings for September than for August 2023. And then a 33% increase in bookings in March to May. And a 58% increase from September to November. And even the booking.com travel trends survey found that 47% of respondents are willing to take their children out to school for cheaper off-peak travel.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Now, I mean it's quite difficult I think sometimes to justify why kids need to be in school when they're having to work, when they're having to have their homeschooling for a couple of years during the pandemic. And I think this is obviously a knock-on effect, but also substantial price increase and, and inflationary pressures that have gone on travel bookings. Will James, you, you both have kids and, and, and so when you look at sort of like travel and budgets and, and you are thinking about your fam other friends and families that need to look at that, is, is there a much more, a different perspective now on, on taking kids out of school and or when to travel in other periods throughout the year?

 

James Clarke:

So, I'll start, I'll start with a funny story that brings back my parents into the conversation, which was when I asked him about their cruise and I said, was the cruise busy? They, my dad said, yeah, the cruise is, is really busy. He said, pretty much, you know, most of the people were our age, but he said, there are still kids on board and I don’t know how those kids are on board. So, it just shows you that people are taking their children out of school. Why? Because of the cost. Because if someone can take their child on a cruise, which is an all-inclusive cruise or a, you know, a cruise in the sun, they're saying I'm happy to pay a fine because the cost is half the price than it is in the summer. And ultimately, we have created a very bad stigma in the UK for how rigid our school seasons are.

 

James Clarke:

They don't, some schools now are a bit more flexible. I know like for instance, my daughter's school, breaks up in summertime, generally about a week in advance of most other schools. But they go back generally a bit differently. And then other schools in the area are, are a bit staggered as well over like things like February half term. So, some schools are, are moving in that direction, which gives you a little bit of an advantage, but ultimately you still can't put a price on the saving you're going to get from traveling in September and still get good weather till that of August. So it is going to ultimately create the trend that we're seeing, which is people are willing to take the hit.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Yeah. And I've certainly heard, you know, that they're paying 300 quid for the kid to come out of school for a week or even 150. I think it can be as low as it's cheaper than actually going during the school holiday. So huge price differences there. So, something that will, a trend that will keep an eye on. Right. Another trend here, I'd be interested to hear from. Will, you know, how you take photos when you are on holiday? Now Jen said is all over, it's over selfies, right? It's done. The next generation is favouring older tech to document their trips. So not with their phones. 16% are now taking a Polaroid on holiday with them, 13% a camcorder and 11% a 35-millimeter film camera according to Skyscanner.

 

Ryan Haynes:

I kind of remember those technologies and the fun we used to have trying to refill those films. What was your, how do you take your photos Will?

 

Will Plummer:

Badly it, it may be the subject matter. I mean wow. Can you not remember all the endless cables you had to take? It's like, oh no, no, no, I've got the camera cable, I need the cam cord cable. And it doesn't, it doesn't meet. I mean look, I applaud it. On one hand, what I miss and what I'm or we are very bad at as a family is actually getting photos printed out. And I do think there, there's some wonderful treasures around that. You know, mine are all on my phone. I have an iPhone, other brands are available, but you know, I've got endless phone, endless photos that I, I flick through or whatever else. But I'll take 10 photos of the same thing in the hope that one of them turns out okay with all the kids looking at the camera, everyone managing a bit of a smile.

 

Will Plummer:

And I look, I'm not particularly good. It's one thing I probably not regret but I wish we were better at it and we will try, but it's a very much convenient phone and they never get printed.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Prints, free prints, you know, you get a free book every month. I think you get nearly 30 printouts every month for free pay delivery charges. Highly recommend it. My brother's one of those people that every single, are.

 

Will Plummer:

Are they going to sponsor it? Is that a plug?

 

Ryan Haynes:

I wish. Yeah, I could do with that. Yeah. But my brother's one of those people every single year he makes an annual Yeah brilliant. Like a photo book and you know, it is a wonderful way to remember those times, that's for sure. Claire, are you a selfie lover?

 

Claire Steiner:

Selfie? No, not me, but I do like taking lots of photos. I mean, listen, I've got a cupboard downstairs full of albums right of my travels, of my backpacking days. I absolutely love it. All the fun I had being a JM you know, I've got a lot of photos but like we were saying, we all have thousands and thousands of photos online in our camera and everything else. And at some point, I'm going to, and I say this to us every, I'm going to go through and get rid of all those photos. I was looking at some of my albums the other day and I was thinking, who the hell's that? You know? And, and I think that we, we have, we have those things as well and, and I think, you know, the decluttering and everything else. For me, actually one of the interesting things I read around was around this dark data and I don’t know if I've mentioned it before, but where we have all these millions and millions and millions of additional photos and there were some amazing stats around it.

 

Claire Steiner:

They are all beheld, we all think they're just going to the cloud and they sit there on our phones and everything else. But there are huge data farms around the world that are churning through electricity and you know, to actually keep all of our photos. So actually, you know, one of the environmentally friendly things we should all do is go through and get rid of, you know, find that one potage, the 10 will that, you know, that works and get rid of those nine. And we all need to do that and I'm as guilty as everyone else for not doing it with the best one in the world. I want to do it. But you know, it's one of those things you never do. But I'm going to, it's going to, one of my new year's resolutions is to actually sort out my photos. Because I've got way too many of them.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Great. Right. Okay. Thank you very much. Claire, Will James, we are coming up to the finale. It's the quick quiz. Okay, then we are at the quick quiz time. It is time to test our industry hob knobs. Where are they? This month will be one in January. It's a best of five. They're challenged on their industry knowledge. Yes. Just, just they got, they got through last month. So, we got five questions with a potential bonus question. Should there be a draw? They have three instruments or instruments each to bring to the table to make sure that they buzz in when they got the answer.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Okay, let's hear, hear Will's buzzer.

 

Will Plummer:

(Plays bell)

 

Ryan Haynes:

You got a bell and Claire?

 

Claire Steiner:

(Plays mobile phone buzzer)

 

Ryan Haynes:

Woo. She's ready, that's for sure. And James?

 

James Clarke:

(Plays tambourine)

 

Ryan Haynes:

He's moved in with a tambourine this week,       

 

Will Plummer:

Rated the kids’ playbooks, eh?

 

James Clarke:

Yeah, yeah. Mixing it up. Mixing it up Will.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Nice. I like it too much.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Right. Okay. Are we ready? Let's go, shall we? The first question is a geography question. Which country is made up of more than 7,000 islands?

 

James Clarke:

(Plays tambourine)

 

Ryan Haynes:

James?

 

James Clarke:

Is it Canada?

 

Ryan Haynes:

No

 

Will Plummer:

(Plays bell)

 

Ryan Haynes:

Will?

 

Will Plummer:

Indonesia.

 

Ryan Haynes:

No, the Philippines.

 

Will Plummer:

Oh,

 

Ryan Haynes:

Second question is an attraction question. How many floors are in the Empire State Building?

 

Ryan Haynes:

You have to take a guess.

 

Will Plummer:

(Plays bell)

 

Claire Steiner:

(Plays mobile phone buzzer)

 

James Clarke:

(Plays tambourine)

 

Ryan Haynes

Yeah. Okay. Will Claire and James in that order?

 

Will Plummer:

52.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Claire?

 

Claire Steiner:

I was going to say 70.

 

Ryan Haynes:

James?

 

James Clarke:

I was going to say 72.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Oh, well done James, you won. It's 102.

 

Claire Steiner:

102? I’ve been up there so many times. I don't remember that.

 

James Clarke:

There you go.

 

Ryan Haynes:

A destination question, what currency is used in Brazil?

 

Will Plummer:

(Plays bell)

 

Ryan Haynes:

Will?

 

Will Plummer:

Brazilian Real - BRS

 

Ryan Haynes:

Real? Yes, that's right. Well done.

 

Will Plummer:

It's pronounced rias. Apparently, my Brazilian friend tells me.

 

Claire Steiner:

Ria. Yeah,

 

Ryan Haynes:

Right over to an airline question now, according to industry averages about what percentage of flights are delayed a day, what potential of flights are delayed per day?

 

Will Plummer:

(Plays bell)

 

Ryan Haynes:

Oh, Will you're going straight in there with all the guesses, aren't you? Come on then.

 

Will Plummer:

Yeah, the word is guess is 8%.

 

James Clarke:

(Plays tambourine)

 

Ryan Haynes:

Okay. James came in there.

 

James Clarke:

I want to say 5%.

 

Claire Steiner:

I think it's less. 2.5%.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Well, Will's closer. Definitely not close enough because believe it or not, it's around 20% approximately one to 2% are cancelled today.

 

Ryan Haynes:

But that's, that's global industry averages. Right. So that could be anywhere in the world. Okay. Onto the fifth question. We've got Will, who's winning at two points to one of James so far. This is the history question. And what year was the first hot air balloon launched?

 

Claire Steiner:

(Plays mobile phone buzzer)


Ryan Haynes:

Yes, Claire

 

Claire Steiner:

1730.

 

Will Plummer:

(Plays bell)

 

Ryan Haynes:

Okay. Will? 

 

Will Plummer:

1842.

 

James Clarke:

(Plays tambourine)

 

Ryan Haynes:

All right then. And well James wants to guess.

 

Will Plummer:

Come on Mr. Tambourine Man!

 

James Clarke:

I'm going to go for 1840.

 

Ryan Haynes:

2 years before Will, well Claire you just about got that. You were 53 years out. It was in 1783 that it was first she. The passengers were a sheep, a duck, and a rooster.

 

Will Plummer:

Wow. There's a joke somewhere there.

 

James Clarke:

Exactly.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Right. So, with that is a fifth and final question. So, with two points, Will wins again.

 

James Clarke:

Well done, well done

 

Ryan Haynes:

Guys. Congratulations. Thank you ever so much. And thank you to the audience for joining us for the Travel Monthly Review Show in February. Woo-hoo.

 

Will Plummer:

Thanks guys.

 

James Clarke:

Thank you.

 

Claire Steiner:

Thank you.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Thanks for joining us. Right. Okay. So don't forget you can check out all our Monthly podcasts on any of your podcast channels. We'll be coming back to you in March. See you very soon.

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