Comment: Headwinds make focus on margins even more crucial

Travel Weekly’s Lucy Huxley says businesses will be monitoring next week’s Budget as they continue to plot their recovery

Next week’s Budget is unlikely to match the stir caused by Kwasi Kwarteng’s ill-fated statement last September, but the eyes of the trade will be on chancellor Jeremy Hunt nonetheless.

There is no doubt the start to the year has outstripped even the most bullish trading predictions, and reports from big hitters including Hays Travel and Tui suggest momentum is holding up – albeit with a slowdown after the manic start to peaks.

But nobody should be under any illusion that the future will be plain sailing, and businesses will be hoping for ongoing support as they prepare for rises in corporation tax, business rates and the minimum wage.

One of the most pleasing trends has been an apparent willingness among consumers to prioritise spending on travel over other disposable outlay. Yet any prudent business planner will be considering the prospect that this could be a post-pandemic fillip rather than a mid or long-term trend to set their stall by.

As Hays Travel owner Dame Irene Hays told the Independence Group conference in the Algarve last weekend, the combination of these business pressures and the prospect of limited economic growth in the foreseeable future makes the need to focus on margins even more important.

After years of suppressed demand and income, it is quite right for embattled travel firms to make hay while the sun shines. But with numerous challenges remaining, it is also imperative they avoid the temptation to chase a rapid sales rebound at the expense of a sustainable bottom line.

Comment originally from Travel Weekly, March 9 edition

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