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We hold our breath and cross our fingers - An insider's view, Friday 6 January 2023

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

Will this January be as strong for the travel sector as it has been in the past? Financial and regulatory expert, Matt Purser – Director of the Firebird Partnership – gives his latest take on the issues facing the industry, by assessing the ongoing impact of the economic crisis.

It is nearly three years since we all became affected by the devastating consequences of Covid-19, from both a health and a business point of view.

More travel businesses survived than we ever dreamed possible – then, just as we thought about concentrating on the “return of travel,” the next hurdle for the industry was just around the corner. We are now in the midst of a global economic crisis which threatens, once again, to put severe pressure on travel businesses.

“Are our clients ready to plan their summer holiday now, or will they wait to see how the global economy affects them?”

As we entered the last few days of 2022, bookings seemed to be going well, but there was a question mark over whether this hunger for travel would hold up.

January has historically been a big booking month for the sector, but would the demand we saw last month replace our expected demand for this one? Are our clients ready to plan their summer holiday now, or will they wait to see how the global economy affects them before committing their money?

Since travel started to return following the lifting of lockdowns, the booking patterns of consumers have changed. Many are waiting until nearer their departure date in order to book their trips. This may well have been due to the pandemic, with consumers wanting to ensure their destinations would remain open. But with rising energy bills now hitting many of us in the pocket, is this now a more pressing reason for consumers to hold on to their cash for longer?

“This is the time to be more proactive, not reactive”

Businesses with commitments have started their sales early. If you don’t have committed flights or accommodation, can you afford to wait for demand? The answer is probably not. You’ve spent money acquiring your clients and you now want to keep them. So make sure you know your customers: what are their pain points and what are they looking for? This is the time to be more proactive, not reactive.

As we wait to see how January pans out, wouldn’t it be great to have a strong start to the year? Maybe all of us can. Maybe being proactive with our clients, and helping them make decisions based on these extraordinary times, is the way forward.

Let’s hope we are all celebrating come February.

Matt Purser is a Director of the Firebird Partnership, and has worked in travel since 1989, beginning with ATOL at the Civil Aviation Authority. There he was instrumental in scoping out regulatory changes to protect consumers. In 2005, he set up the Travel Trade Consultancy (TTC) and helped grow it from a start-up to a million-pound-turnover business. Matt is an expert for the Finance & MI and Regulatory modules of Firebird’s Foundations for Growth programme.

Learn all about the programme, and get in touch with Firebird, at


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