Football - love or loathe?

Rugby’s moment in the sun is over, now it is time for football to shine. Groan.

Sorry to say I dislike most things about football. I dislike the disrespect players and managers have for officials, the hideous amounts of money that slush around and the general lack of integrity.

As the travel industry’s very own Sepp Blatter leads the ITT conference out to Tel Aviv this week, some will be rushing back to tune in to Euro 16 and no doubt this year’s tournament will be a tense time for many.

Aside from the fans, security services in France will be tested to the max and the Brexit brigade will be crossing their fingers hoping that a game lost on penalties will swing us irreversibly out of Europe.

But what about us – what impact will the tournament have on booking patterns in the short or long term?

With the final ending before schools break up, thankfully any impact will not affect peak. But, shoulder season is a risky time for yield managers who will be trying to calculate if customers will stay home to watch another hapless England/Wales performance or will head off to the sun regardless, booking destinations or cruise ships with wall to wall TV coverage.

At the moment the verdict is out on this. Reports on early summer bookings vary. Security threats and the immigration crisis are having their impact but the exchange rates are proving to be a boost.

Last month the BBC reported Tui Group saying it had sold 47% of its summer holidays for this year, broadly in line with expectations. Overall, bookings were up 2% and revenues were 3% higher. Spain and long haul destinations were doing particularly well.

At the same time, Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser reported a later booking pattern. An interview quoted in the Financial Times said “we know that customers want a summer holiday but we can see that some are leaving it later to book this year as they consider their options.

It is clear that customer’s value packaged travel more than ever and feel safer in our hands”

Longer term, the success of the recent women’s FA cup is a good news story for the beautiful game. 40,000 fans at Wembley supporting a women’s final would be unheard of as recently as 10 years ago. Arsenal and England player Rachel Yankee used to shave her head so she could join a boy’s football team as a child, now schools routinely have women’s football teams and companies such as Inspiresport.com have seen immense growth in demand for girl’s football tours.

Steve Butchart, CEO of Inspiresport.com said “More and more schools are choosing Inspiresport to give pupils immersive football tours.

Participative school tours are an area of the travel industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. Nowadays it is not enough to simply travel to Valencia and play football. Inspiresport now offer children and teachers first-hand experience coaching with professional players, their coaches on their pitches.

Rachel Yankey led a tour earlier this year with girls and boys competing side by side. It won’t be long before we launch girl’s only tours. We are proud to be setting a new industry standard. ”

So the bottom line?

With so many volatile factors in our industry at the moment, for once, it may be that this billion euro tournament will have little impact on anything but our waistlines – pint anyone?