Opinion: Monarch collapse revealed the best of a truly unique industry

Opinion: Monarch collapse revealed the best of a truly unique industry

Monarch’s collapse demonstrates travel’s warmth and generosity in the face of adversity, says Gary Anslow, the operator’s former sales director

The collapse of Monarch on the October 2 has created shockwaves through the industry, and has disrupted the travel and holiday plans of many hundreds of thousands of travellers.

It will, undoubtedly, lead to a fundamental shift in a regulatory scheme that has had the proverbial bus driven through it, and many column inches have been dedicated to the closure of a company that I was proud to be a part of for just under seven years.

From the technical and legal insight of the broadsheets and the trade press through to the less salubrious click-bait headlines of some of the more mendacious tabloids, Monarch has been a hot topic.

What has received far fewer column inches, certainly outside of publications like this, is the genuine compassion, warmth and generosity that this industry shows time after time when events take a turn for the worse.

It is a given that this generosity centres on customers affected – the focus on reassuring and re-protecting clients, and ensuring the best possible outcomes for those affected, was the primary goal.

That is as it should be. But alongside this was also a generosity to those who had woken up on Monday morning to find themselves out of work.

Before the ink had dried on P45’s, the wider travel industry was there to support those affected.

Within a couple of days, agents and operators were hosting open days for the teams at Monarch Holidays Stockport Contact Centre.

At Monarch Holidays head office in Bromley, a careers fair was supported by a list of companies that wouldn’t fit on this page, and the same was true at Monarch Airlines bases across the UK.

This support has an obvious benefit for potential employers – good people with immediate availability – but it is being served with a generous dollop of altruism.

Immediate opportunities are being balanced with guidance around job seeking, CV building and interview techniques.

Having been outside of travel prior to joining Monarch, I’m pretty certain that such a response would not have been quite as apparent in other industries.

Alongside the support that gathered pace in the initial days after that Monday morning, social media was at the forefront in communicating all that is best about this industry.

Monarch Holidays 2,000 strong Facebook community took to other channels to share their best wishes, and twitter and texts from far and wide were as generous as they were voluminous.

But perhaps we should not be surprised. In Abta lifeline, in Reuben’s Retreat, in the Penny Akam Unsung Hero Award, in The Together Forever Foundation, and in numerous other charities and events, this industry demonstrates its true nature, and more often than not, puts the events of the last few weeks into perspective.

In time, the good people of Monarch will find fulfilling and rewarding careers in airlines, operators and agencies across the country.

Overseas, many of our team will move seamlessly into other travel organisations, bringing a wealth of operational, commercial and customer service experience with them.

Some will undoubtedly leave the industry, but they will add value wherever they go.

That they are able to do so reflects both the grounding and insight they received at Monarch, but also because of the nature of this industry and the people that have shown themselves to be true industry colleagues over the last few weeks, from across the spectrum of partners, suppliers, agents and competitors.

I hope I speak on behalf of my ex- Monarch colleagues when I say thanks.

The travel industry can be challenging, engaging, rewarding and any other adjective you can throw at it – but it is certainly unique – long may it stay that way.

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