‘Market will reward courage’

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 last week.

Birch cited the example of the terrorist attacks in Luxor where "with determined marketing, it is possible to recover."

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 Zealand.

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.


ABACUS International has reported a strong recovery in bookings after the extended weekend holidays in North Asia.

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."

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