Aito Agents should market trips of a lifetime because consumers will seek ‘revenge travel’ when the holiday market returns with a vengeance.

Roy Barker, co-founder of data insight specialist Spike Insight, said: “People have been putting off plans for big trips, such as life-stage holidays, and they have been thinking about them for a year.

“It’s called ‘revenge travel’, according to [management consulting firm] McKinsey & Company – people want revenge on the virus and travel for a special birthday, for example.”

He was speaking on a panel at Kickstart – a virtual version of the domestic conference held each January by the agency arm of The Specialist Travel Association (Aito).

“As soon as [clients] can travel, they will,” he told delegates.

Sandra Corkin, managing director of Oasis Travel in Belfast, agreed: “They want to travel and they want to go soon.

“This lockdown is the greatest opportunity of them all, with vaccinations on the horizon and people seriously considering making plans.”


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Steve Rushton, Travel Marketing Systems’ founder, said there would be a “stampede” through agents’ doors if travel restrictions were lifted now.

He advised agents to inspire and excite clients about “important holidays” and “trips of a lifetime”.

“Covid will stay with us so [clients] will want to make the most of the travelling that they can do,” he said.

Barker said his surveys highlighted the resilience of the affluent, mature Aito market, with 70% of clients saying their financial position will stay the same or get better in 2021 – and many are possibly getting vaccinated soon.

He and Rushton advised agents to segment their marketing messages to target different types of clients, and find the best way to communicate, whether it is on email or social media.

They agreed that past customers are the easiest to target, rather than new clients.

Rushton believes online client events will remain a key marketing activity for agents, even when get-togethers can resume in shops.

Corkin added: “It’s about personal connections with customers. We have held virtual events and Zoom meetings along with suppliers to sow the seed for the next holiday.”

The session was moderated by Martyn Sumners, Aito executive director.