by Ian McMahon
I am writing this in advance of the 15 days of Chinese New Year celebrations commencing on February 8. So I am uncertain, dear reader, whether you will receive my best wishes to you for the Year of the Monkey as the festivities are beginning or winding down.
Either way, it will be timely to reflect that 2016 is shaping up as a year in which you will need all the guile that the Chinese astrological charts attribute to the monkey – purportedly they are clever, cunning animals – for your business to survive, let alone flourish.
And however much, or little, regard you have for Chinese astrology, it seems to me singularly appropriate to focus on the year ahead at the same time as the Chinese traditionally examine the auspices and portents for their future wellbeing.
This is because the Asian country’s fortunes over the coming 12 months will have an enormous impact on the Australian economic environment and, by extension, commercial outcomes for Australia’s travel wholesalers and retailers.
The slowing of China’s hitherto spectacular economic expansion is already hitting our mining industry and that, along with a global oil glut, is propelling a downward spiral in share prices and a slide in the value of Australia’s currency.
With one Australian dollar buying less than $US0.70 – and declining significantly against other key currencies – overseas holidays are becoming less affordable.
And this is happening as plummeting share prices are eroding the nest eggs of Australia’s baby boomers. Yes, those same cashed up boomers who have been spending up big on high-value holidays.
Confidence is reportedly dropping as consumers who don’t feel as rich as they used to be are confronted by prices that seem higher than they used to be. Agents will need to display Year of the Monkey cleverness to overcome this.
I note that in this Year of the Monkey, Helloworld is poised to benefit from the injection of the practical, coal-face know-how of two of the country’s most canny operators.
With AOT now the company’s major shareholder, Andrew and Cinzia Burnes have taken the management reins while the Alysandratos family, owner of Consolidated Travel, once again has a representative on the board in the person of Peter Spathis.
I am not sure how much input they had into the company’s latest advertising campaign. But its emphasis on specific product offers, using value-adds rather than price as a hook, seems to me to be a clever approach.