Rob Darby discusses how years of uncertainty have bred the ‘savvy sun seeker’ and how agents must innovate to stay competitive.

Following years of uncertainty amidst a global financial crisis, and the natural knock-on effect on consumer spending, things are looking up for the travel market.

While still nowhere near the pre-2008 figures, ONS figures for 2014 showed that trips abroad by UK holidaymakers rose by 3.7%, (1) which for many industry commentators was enough to herald a positive sea-change for the market.

Not only are trips abroad increasing, which means more business for agents and TMCs, consumer spending abroad is also mirroring this renewed sense of economic confidence with a 4.5% rise (2) – a total of £24bn. (3)

A strong Pound in the aftermath of May’s General Election outcome has meant a sunny forecast for Britain’s holidaymakers this summer also.

With favourable exchange rates, more disposable income or simply less need to save every penny than in previous years, consumers may be more open to the power of the purchase this summer season. However years of economic uncertainty have resulted in a dramatic shift of spending mindset.

A new breed of ‘savvy’ has reached all corners of commerce it would seem. We only have to look at the rise of discount supermarkets and voucher codes to see it in action and consumer approach to most other purchases is no different.

The savvy consumer is one who doesn’t mind spending but is very conscious about ensuring they get the most ‘bang’ for their buck. Interestingly foreign exchange is one area where consumer spending continues to buck the trend.

For many UK residents a holiday to a Eurozone country is a likely household expenditure in 2015, yet the majority will only begin to think about their FX situation a day or two before they go often leaving them paying over and above the more favourable exchange rates simply because they have run out of time.

Herein lies an opportunity for travel agents who have not only been called on to search and locate the best holiday deals for their customer but who can also capitalise on the chance to offer an ideal FX solution for the savvy sun seeker – a prepaid travel money card.

A prepaid card allows holidaymakers to avoid costly charges when withdrawing money and spending abroad. For many the lack of preparation means a reliance on their personal credit or debit cards, often with fixed fees on withdrawals and point of sale transactions as well as the expected FX charge.

With a prepaid card, holidaymakers can tap into their ‘savvy’ psyche and ‘hedge’ their currency, buying when there is an expectation that the Pound will fall. While not without the risk that the exchange market will go the opposite way and the Pound may continue to rise, for many the choice to load the card when and how they want may be appealing.

However, with the current economic forecast in mind, another alternative may be more appealing to the nation’s savvy travellers. Travel cards that are loaded in Pounds with conversion made at the time of use, such as the Escape Travel Money Prepaid MasterCard® Card, ensures holiday makers will be sure they are getting the most up to date exchange rate. With this type of card, they will not be charged for unloading money not spent nor will they face further exchange rate charges for converting into another currency should they travel abroad to another country later in the year.

In addition to the cost savings and perhaps more important than being savvy is the benefit of being safe. With a Travel Money card, travellers are offered a convenient and safe alternative to carrying cash or their bank cards abroad. They also offer cardholders much greater flexibility and reduced costs all while ensuring they get the most bang for their buck, each and every time.

Savvy times call for savvy measures and while consumers continue to hunt for the best deal on electronics, groceries and holidays alike, so too must service deliverers continue to innovate and develop their offerings in order to ride the wave of positive sentiment.

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(1) ONS, Travel Trends 2014,


(3) YouGov,

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