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Opportunity begins at home

10 July 2008

In the week Travelodge research revealed that 30% of UK consumers have shelved plans for a foreign holiday, chief executive Grant Hearn calls on the hospitality industry to grasp the chance.

Whether you call it a "credit crunch", "recession" or "stagflation", some form of terminology reflecting tougher economic times is impossible to avoid. You cannot open a paper or turn on the TV news without a business commentator forecasting a gloomy outlook.

If Marks & Spencer and the retail sector can be taken as an indicator, there is no doubt that our industry will see a shift down to the value end. However, I have always believed that, in tough times, there are always glimmers of opportunity.

It is clear that consumers are now tightening their belts, and one of the biggest cutbacks this summer will be foreign travel, presenting domestic tourism with a real opportunity. The Office for National Statistics suggests that this opportunity is worth as much as £11.4b this year alone.

I believe that this gives us a great chance to prove ourselves as an industry. If we can work together, and show innovation and great commercial awareness, we can demonstrate to the Government that we are indeed an industry worth backing. More importantly, we can showcase a better product to our customers.

This country has a reputation for high prices and low satisfaction - it's no surprise that a £50 flight to Milan has been more often favoured than a slog to the British coast in previous years. But if, this year, we can entice new customers to our holiday spots with strong marketing and low prices, maybe this credit crunch could begin a new legacy for UK tourism.

This summer, Travelodge is to launch a campaign to attract British holiday-makers to seasonal destinations with a £19 room sale and many more linked offers. Because of our "no frills" offer and lack of fancy restaurants, these new customers will spend an average of £30 per day in the communities they visit. This means that fish and chip restaurants, rock shops, piers, parks and pubs have the opportunity to capture some of this additional revenue.

The next couple of months presents a chance for us all to pull together to demonstrate the best of British holidays, and to provide a compelling offer to our customers that could see them return next year and in many more summers to come.

Let's take the bite out of the credit crunch and put British holidays back on the map.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.

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