High street agencies will survive the digital age because of the complex nature of booking travel, according to a leading UK commentator on the financial and technology sectors.
Journalist Paul Mason, who was recently appointed culture and digital editor at Channel Four news, said consumers were unlikely to give up the physical purchasing experience.
He was speaking yesterday morning in front of almost 200 delegates at the annual Travolution Summit in London.
“The travel marketplace is divided between digital and physical,” he said.
“Some will shop and book certain products online, while others still go to the high street to see their travel agent. In the music business the battle is over.
“No one is going to the high street to buy a CD. With iTunes you’re part of a system that really works. But there is no iTunes for the travel industry. In the travel industry it is very complex when it comes to airline tickets, hotels and holiday packages.”
Mason described travel as the “ultimate selfie” with what he described as the “white wire brigade” – the modern connected people aged under 35 often seen with iPhones – seeing it as a form is self expression.
Mason said business leaders had reason to be optimistic ahead of 2014 as there were real signs of an economic recovery.
He said the UK economy had in part suffered because negative consumer confidence, joking that many in the country were always going to be dreary and miserable because of the Daily Mail.
And though he was quick to advise delegates not to get too excited, he said consumers were starting to spend and banks were starting to lend.
“After a bad few years consumer confidence is moving back towards the levels seen in boom times,” he said.
“The Bank of England says banks are scoring people better when they ask for credit. It had stagnated, but it’s improving rapidly.
“Since mid-2010 banks had been saying to the BOE that they were going to be lending more, but it never quite happened. But it is now.”
Mason said that barring any accidents the recovery would be decent and sustained.