Steve Jones’ Say

IT’S that time of year when we all start wittering on about the past year. We also tend to contemplate the year ahead, wondering, or worrying, what the immediate future may hold.

To that end, I have a compiled a 2020 wish list. Naturally, none of them I expect to be granted. But hey, it’s the time of year where we all become inexplicably optimistic, so here’s hoping.

My first desire is for travel marketers to come to their senses and dispense with social media influencers. Can there be a more vacuous and irritating form of marketing? I’m acutely aware I’m a member of a demographic which perhaps doesn’t ‘get it’. Some influencers have dedicated fans who, bewilderingly, appear to hang off their every word. At least that’s what we’re led to believe.

But quite apart from the extremely unreliable metrics that accompany social media marketing, aren’t we all demanding “authenticity” from advertising and marketing? Paying an influencer to prattle on about the wonderful time they’re having seems as far removed from authentic as it’s possible to get.

Second on the wish list, is for travel companies to drastically scale back their brochure production. A while ago in this column I wrote about the mountain of material still being churned out in the digital age. Can’t we begin to educate consumers about the simplicity of viewing brochures online? I understand that not everyone has online access. But the amount of waste does nothing for the environment or for travel companies’ production and distribution costs.

The third wish is for Qantas to clearly demonstrate how the Qantas Channel will benefit agents. Not with hazy promises of “rich content” but with tangle examples of how retailers can make more money. The Qantas Channel launched almost five months ago. The next 12 will tell us whether it’s truly revolutionary, or just hot air.

My final wish concerns industry malpractice. The failures of Bestjet, Venture Far and Tempo Holidays and Bentours involved some questionable business conduct. Sadly, hope, rather than expectation, is all we have in bringing to account those responsible. Progress has been made, but experience tells us the appetite for a comprehensive investigation evaporates as the costs of doing so inexorably mount.

Together with Carnival’s reprehensible approach to the marine environment which saw it fined $20m for polluting the oceans, the Tempo Holidays and Bentours collapse represents the obvious low point of the year. More positively, the generally strong performance of the outbound market suggests the industry is in reasonable health.

Inevitably, 2020 will throw up numerous challenges, climate change, over-tourism and the associated environmental impact of travel among them. With activism rising around the world, the industry could be in for a bumpy ride.

If you have any thoughts, email