Columnist John Barham addresses this issue in an article in UK-based The Drum - "The biggest marketing website in Europe."
(As you likely know, as a result of a June 2016 referendum vote, the UK is on track to exit the European Union (EU) by 2019.)
- It's hoped that residency status of EU nationals living in the UK or Brits living in the EU will not become a contentious issue.
- Brits will likely not find leisure travel to the EU terribly difficult, because the UK is a very important source market for many if not all EU countries.
- We should expect the non-EU nations of the world to take this opportunity to renegotiate their citizens' rights to travel to the UK.
- An economic downturn affecting UK consumer debt, wages or employment will lead to a contraction of travel demand by Brits.
- Leisure travel abroad - family holidays and city breaks - will be the first travel products to be impacted.
- Business travel could move away from short-haul toward long-haul e.g. Asia.
- UK incomes could trend so as to increase the gap between haves and have-nots.
- Devaluation of the GBP has serious implications for travel. Immediately after the 2016 referendum vote, the GBP dropped 15% against the euro and 18% against the dollar.
- UK domestic tourism should benefit, as Brits turn to home holidays for value.
- UK outbound travel is going to be constrained by exchange rates and other economic considerations.
- UK interest in NYC and Las Vegas - destinations where a lot of money is spent on shopping and gambling - is already down in 2017.
- All-inclusive holidays could become more popular (because easier to budget for).
- Supplier contracts denominated in euros or dollars will put the squeeze on UK travel companies.
- There was a "stark drop" in travel search volumes in 1Q2017.
- There's now a trend toward competitive pricing for travel.
- Brexit milestones could affect temporal booking patterns - e.g., booking just before the next big event to lock in prices.
Recommendations for travel marketers in 2017-2019
- Understand your customers, particularly with where they are in the socio-economic spectrum.
- Watch exchange-rate trends for your top destinations.
- Know when the Brexit milestones are going to occur, and plan accordingly.
- Be flexible, respond to changing conditions with agility.
Using paid media:
- Don't over-rely on a single channel.
- Take action to minimize ad fraud.
- Use effective CRO to make the most of traffic you're getting.
- Integrate communication, segmentation and remarketing across channels.
What are the implications of Brexit for international destinations?
Example: Massachusetts, USA
In 2013, there were 2.1 million international visitors came to MA, of which 2.1 million (10%) came from the UK. These UK visitors spent $290,000,000 and generated a further $18,000,000 in tax revenue for MA.
So, for purposes of discussion, and disregarding inflation, if 5% fewer visitors were to come to MA from the UK in 2017, MA tourism businesses would see a shortfall of $14,500,000 in sales, and MA would get $900,000 less tax revenue to fund public programs (2013 dollars).
That's not small potatoes.
At this stage of the game, not all destinations may yet be running their best marketing for competing for UK visitors - so if this market is a valuable one for you, start improving your game now and you may have an edge.