At Global Refund we deal with more than 12 million international travellers in 40 countries around the world annually with our tax-free shopping service and dynamic currency conversion service, First Currency Choice.
Through working with 240,000 retailers and hotels, we collect data which enables us to look ahead and spot developing trends.
Like a lot of businesses, we are feeling the effects of the credit crunch, both positive and negative. On the negative side we are experiencing a drop in volume with the US market, and if you’d asked me a year ago I would have been very concerned at this development.
However, with the rise in oil prices, I am more optimistic, as we are experiencing a surge in spend from the Middle East, Russia and Nigeria. Here in the UK, travellers from these countries are regularly spending between £800 and £1,200, and this is most evident in the luxury sector. Another positive is the volume growth of Chinese and Indian travellers, compensating for the decline in US travellers.
Also, to help capture the international traveller for our retailer and hotelier partners we now have technologies that, at point of sale, automatically recognise foreign credit cards. This is backed up by training, sharing of data and regular communication to maximise the opportunities offered to both of us.
In all, this year will be tougher than last year, but with the World Trade Organisation predicting global growth of between 3% and 4%, we are more positive about this year than we were at its beginning. The light is definitely visible at the end of the tunnel.
Nigel Dasler is country manager for Global Refund UK