World Travel Market London 2015: Day three round-up

Throughout Day three of the World Travel Market London 2015, the airline sector was put in the travel and tourism spotlight, with a keynote interview with chief executive, Malaysia Airlines, Christoph Mueller, who was appointed six months ago to return the airline to its former glory prior to its two disasters last year.

The third day of the exhibition also welcomed the release of high-profile research reports, revealing the latest travel trends spanning a variety of sectors.

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Senior trends consultant, Mintel, Richard Cope presented Travel Futures, which explained how low-cost airlines are making cultural and historical short breaks more popular.

“Low-cost carriers are usually associated with stag dos and hen parties, but they’ve added a cultural component into the British holiday psyche,” he stated.

With great potential for the industry to capitalise on health and fitness trends, chief operating officer, Spafinder Wellness 365, John Bevan held a session entitled: ‘Attracting High Yield Travellers via Wellness Tourism’. He declared: “Companies realise they need to look after the wellness of their employees. My own company offers yoga and massages and the staff adore it.”

Meanwhile, overseas director, Neilson Active Holidays, Pip Tyler explained that more ‘Welderlies’ – retired people enjoying good health – are holidaying with grandchildren.

Managing director, Tourism Intelligence International, Dr Auliana Poon explained to delegates that the over-50s market is bigger than China, and suppliers need a strategy to attract this demographic. She declared that marketing materials should have a youthful feel, as “older people do not feel old, they are young at heart.”

Also on day three, Travel research specialist Phocuswright and hospitality consultancy h2c discussed their major study of the US and European independent hotel and lodging sector, which found that many independent hoteliers lack the resources, tools and expertise to compete with chains and will lose market share.

Adding to this, according to the research, online travel agencies such as Booking.com and Expedia are increasing their market share in the sector, despite independent hotels’ efforts to drive direct bookings.

During another popular session, experts from Expedia and Kuoni discussed the future for tourist boards and destination marketing organisations. They debated on technological advancements and social media strategies, in a panel session chaired by chairman, ANTOR (Association of National Tourist Offices and Representatives), Tracey Poggio.

During the ETOA debate, entitled: ‘City Tourism: Taxing the Tourist’, panellists warned that a lack of clarity about councils’ tourism taxes created distrust, while chief executive,  VisitCornwall, Malcolm Bell was also concerned that short-term surcharges often turned into long-term taxes.

During a debate held as part of World Responsible Tourism Day, panellists communicated that hotels must be cautious of how they communicate their sustainability credential. Guests may question the motives for messages about re-using towels, and hoteliers could instead inform them on how the proceeds are donated to charity.