20 years ago no one could imagine, let alone dream, that flights would be as cheap as chips and with good planning skills you would be able to travel across the entire world without millions on your account. Back in the day, travelling by an airplane was perceived as a luxury not a necessity, and like when visiting a theatre, we dressed up; enjoyed inflight meals consisting of a plastic box filled with pieces of wrapped produce, and on longer flights beautiful stewardesses (nowadays flight attendants) served warm meals and poured drinks to order.
Now, low-cost airlines are part of our travel landscape and due to the digital revolution, within a few minutes we can purchase a ticket to almost any destination in the world. Budget airlines are a great alternative to traditional service providers. They offer the same product, transport from A to B, but for a fraction of the cost, albeit some perks offered by more expensive competitors. The cost has been reduced to a minimum by down scaling the business with competitive pricing and squishing as many passengers as is possible into one aircraft, and as such, changing our travelling habits forever. Within a few years only (2009- 2016), the demand for low-cost flights in Poland increased by almost 90%. Currently, Polish airports host over 40 million passengers a year!
Given the opportunity of low-cost travel, people started travelling more often and looked for new destinations to visit and explore. With the expansion of mobility within the EU, low-cost airlines became the top transport choice for immigrants, including Poles in the UK.
The rapid change in the European political landscape boosted low-cost airlines’ chances to succeed. It allowed them to expand their destination portfolio and gain frequent ‘flyers’ to their services.
When demand meets supply
Market prices rely heavily on levels of supply and demand. Demand decreases when the price is high and consumers have less incentive to buy and look for cheaper substitutes. If more people are interested in using air transport, the demand increases. The airline industry is always impacted by the elasticity of demand, and politics. It is viewed as unstable, based on current market conditions. The market is changing, so is the purpose of travelling, and the options available. Currently, low-cost airlines fly to all major cities and smaller towns supporting airports, across the globe. The business model initially run by low-cost airlines is now changing. In the past, cheap flights were treated as less valuable by corporate clients. These days, organizations aim to lower their operational costs by shifting their budget from traditional air transport providers to low-cost airlines for lower and medium level management.
What choices do Poles make when it comes to travelling?
Scott Kirby, the president of United Airlines said that people are interested only in price and that’s the reason behind loss of quality in low-cost flights. Poles are certainly very sensitive to price, and a reason why after EU members gained freedom of movement, budget airlines expanded their offer to include all major cities in Poland. Ryanair, Wizz Air, and more recently, a Norwegian airline, competed to supply as many flights as is possible to Poland in order to accommodate their passengers’ demand. A few years ago we knew that by choosing traditional airlines such as LOT, British Airways, or Lufthansa, we were guaranteed a certain quality – inflight meal, more leg room, higher luggage weight allowance, for free. But these times passed when we welcomed new choices, new options and said goodbye to some airlines connecting Poles with the UK. Big players, such as Lufthansa, own their piece of the low-cost segment of the market with their substantial investment in Eurowings which flies through Dusseldorf. Polish airline LOT and British Airways run promotions allowing Poles from Britain to travel by scheduled flights at special prices, similar to low-cost flights. Air transport as we knew it, has completely changed. Traditional airlines have decreased in quality, and the budget airlines are looking into expanding their business models to premium clients by, for example, adding business seats.
Currently, significantly more Poles choose slightly more expensive options, shifting their focus from the cheapest options to ‘cheap and convenient’. A low- cost flight with a shortage of space, and expensive fees for additional luggage is not good enough for travelers looking for quality in life. Major traditional airlines have learned their lesson and lowered their prices without sacrificing their standards. The tickets still remain relatively high priced but if you add all the additional charges in low-cost airlines for all extras such as luggage, meal, or leg room, the price seems to be competitive. Most Poles still use low-cost airlines when it comes to regular travelling, for example when they study or do business back in Poland, but increasingly more of them will choose a traditional airline if the price is just a little bit higher, but offers everything they expect from a flight – quality of seat and more leg room, good inflight service, and the feeling of being a valued customer…
Both, low-cost airlines and traditional airlines offering cheaper options allow immigrants such as Poles in the UK to use airlines more frequently.
The reasons why Poles travel to Poland:
- To visit relatives and friends
- Holidays (as Poland has a lot to offer and it is claimed to be one of the safest countries in the world, Poles frequently choose their home country as a relatively cheap destination for holidays)
- Study (private universities in Poland serve over 1.5 million students every year)
- Shopping (for Polish brands not available in the UK)
- Concerts and festivals (the ticket prices remain cheaper than in the UK)
- Visiting Spas, beauticians and hairdressers (the prices are much lower than in the UK and standards remain very high; some Poles travel this far to get their hair cut and dyed as often as once a month!
- To visit doctors (Polish healthcare market offers more private options, you don’t need to have a referral to use private care, and quality of services remains very high)
- Planned operations and physiotherapy (the cost of healthcare is lower than in the UK when you compare medical service prices while claiming a refund; the possibility of claiming a refund back in the UK opened an additional stream of travel customers)
- Specialist dentistry and orthodontics (Polish dentistry is widely known as a high quality service for a fraction of the cost; with long waiting lists in the UK- orthodontic services in Poland have proved to be a popular choice for Poles)
- Plastic surgery and esthetic medical procedures such as Botox, or Krio Lipo or Laser Lipolysis (Polish cosmetic surgeons are well known worldwide, they operate privately and the prices are roughly 30-50 % lower than British cosmetic surgery fees)
- Health resorts, sanatoriums (these resorts have a lot to offer and the prices are at least 100% lower than the British and you can choose from a wide variety of them)
- Family celebrations, religious occasions such as Holy Communion, Christenings or weddings, which for Poles, are great occasions to gather and celebrate, even for two or three days
- Business trips (many Polish businesses are run from the UK, or rely on Polish clients)
- Conferences and business events (many Poles still choose Poland as their first destination when they want to acquire new skills; they prefer native language and meeting people akin to themselves)
- Sports (the sports base is relatively good in Poland, offering a variety of disciplines at much lower prices for single lessons or camps, including horse riding, rock climbing, skimboarding, Bubble Football, Archery Games, Kronum, or Taspony, to name but a few).
All 4 Comms’ team has great pleasure in cooperating with clients from the tourist industry. If you are interested in professional marketing communication targeting Poles, and are looking for an agency that has over 12 years’ experience on the British and Polish market, contact us now.