12 October 2001
In the post-September 11 world, the market will reward
courage, not panic, said president and chief executive
officer of Abacus International, Don Birch.
"Experience has shown that no matter how dire the
circumstance, we adapt and bounce back.
"The winners will be those who position and repackage,"
Birch told participants at the first Travel Agents Exchange
(TAX 2001) organised by the National Association of Travel
Agents Singapore (NATAS) and TravelWeekly East
Birch cited the example of the terrorist attacks in
Luxor where "with determined marketing, it is possible to
Birch said Abacus would help travel agents to overcome
the fears of customers.
"Your customer needs help because he or she is feeling
insecure. They are concerned about the economy and need
lots of information and reassurance, Together we should aim
to add information, security and trust," he said.
"A believable, professional travel counsellor can add
tremendous value," said Birch.
Birch said while bookings during the week of September
17 (a week after the attacks) dropped 29 percent, it
recovered to a 23 percent drop the following week.
He said Abacus experienced significant cancellation on
North American routes but were positive on Australia/New
He said Indonesia, China and Taiwan were "neutral."
"But new patterns will emerge. Leisure travel will be
more domestic and regional," he said.
Earlier at the "Time for Unity" forum organised by
TravelWeekly East in Singapore, Birch said, at the
end of the day, it was all about confidence and the travel
industry needed to work together to build up confidence
amongst themselves, and among customers.
Abacus is partnering TravelWeekly East in
staging the second "Time for Unity" forum which will be
held in Hong Kong on October 8 at the Hotel
Inter-Continental. The forum is supported by the Hong Kong
Tourism Board and the Hong Kong Hotels Association.
RECOVERY IN BOOKINGS
ABACUS International has reported a strong recovery in
bookings after the extended weekend holidays in North
In the week of October 8, ABACUS' net bookings jumped by
50 percent over the prior fortnight. This is over and above
the cautious sentiment post-September 11. North American
carriers, whose traffic was devastated by the outrage, were
also showing moderate recovery last week.
ABACUS president & CEO, Don Birch said: "It's too
early to tell whether these numbers can be sustained but
the short term trend is encouraging. It would seem that
consumers are starting to travel again, so this is good
news for our partners and the travel industry at large. The
trend is consistent across all markets."