Travolution and Mastercard held an inaugural Travel Landscapes event this week with senior travel delegates hearing from inspiring speakers on the dreaming, booking and experiences phases of travel. Lee Hayhurst reports
The devastating global financial crash of 2008 prompted a switch in consumer buying patterns from accumulating possessions to experiences, according to Mastercard.
Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of market insights, told a Travolution Travel Landscapes event that the global payments giant accesses data from 160 million transactions an hour it processes.
She said the 2008 global financial crash had a “fundamental” impact on how wealth is measured as consumers moved from acquiring more goods to do things with friends and family.
This move to a more “experiential economy” is good news for the travel and tourism sector, Quinlan said.
“We lost a lot in 2008. The whole world saw fundamental wealth loss,” she said. “The one things that did not leave us was family and friends.
“You are so fortunate to be in this industry. Spending in every major economy in the world is focused on travel and tourism. This is increasingly what consumers are going to do.”
Quinlan told delegates that fluctuations in currency is one of the big determining factors in where tourists choose to travel.
She said the access to data all consumers have today on their mobile devices means they are highly sensitive to currency movements and the impact on travel can be almost immediate.
“When people have purchasing power they start to travel further. Travel and tourism is vitally important to economic growth. That’s why everyone is competing.”
In particular destinations are competing for high-spending US visitors and the strong dollar they bring with them.
Quinlan said when the pound slumped 20% in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum one of the things that sustained the economy as people stopped spending was tourism.
China is seeing the rise of a middle class traveller as the government clamps down on the super-rich who previously bought luxury goods to get money out of the country.
“The problem is they buy their trip ahead of time and when they get here they do not buy much. This is a really interesting challenge.
“It’s great there is so many of them, but what does it mean economically?” said Quinlan.
Mastercard says the data it has on the travel sector should allow the industry to better target deals and to address issues of over-tourism in peak times in tourism hotspots.
“The key thing is to think about how to package deals a little bit differently to incentives people to come when it’s a little less crowded. There are opportunities to try to spread this out.
“What I do not want to happen to travel is for it to become anymore elite than it is. I do not want to see Venice charging for permits. How do we allow everyone to come regardless of income?
“The travel industry has an opportunity to educate local officials to make sure not everyone is in Venice in August on the same day.”
Quinlan said with the prospect of oil moving back towards $100 a barrel, it was important that travel continues to generate wealth and facilitate business.
“When we travel for leisure we tend, if we like a place, to go back and put business there. In most of the world now, so many people are starting their own businesses.
“Tourism is a good way of expanding business around the world.”