From parking and transfers to hotel stays and lounge passes, Emily Ashwell looks at the how you can make your clients' time at the airport pay
Every day about 100,000 passengers board a flight out of Heathrow. This alone provides ample opportunity to sell airport add-ons such as lounges, car parking, hotels and transfers.
Add the number of passengers departing from the UK’s other airports, and the commission-earning potential of selling airport add-ons starts to stack up.
Not only can these add-ons ensure your passengers have a smooth and comfortable journey, but by pre-booking, the stress and hassle of travelling through an airport is dramatically reduced too. We take a look at the different types of add-ons in the market and ask suppliers how you can best sell them.
Most airports have a mix of official on-site parking and off-site parking. On-site parking is often run by the airport and can be more expensive.
However, any higher prices can be offset by the fact that your clients can usually walk into the terminal rather than having to take a transfer coach. By contrast, off-site parking is usually run by an independent company. Prices can be cheaper, but your clients will usually need to take a transfer bus.
To take the hassle out of taking luggage from car parks to the terminal, suggest a meet-and-greet service. Customers can drive straight to the terminal where a chauffeur will park their car for them at a secure car park, and return it when they arrive back.
When you’re selling off-site parking, ensure clients understand that they need to leave more time than the given duration of the transfer bus journey to the airport.
James Lewis, head of partnerships at Holiday Extras, says: “Even if you say it is a 10-minute transfer, if the bus runs every half an hour, the journey time could be 40 minutes. You should make them aware of the frequency and the time it takes. Off-site airport parking transfers tend to run less frequently.”
Sample price: Edinburgh Park and Fly is available for £32.50 for eight days’ parking with Holiday Extras.
Organising taxis and transfers for your customers will get them an excellent price and save them the hassle of queuing for a taxi or transfer on arrival. Booking a taxi to an airport can also save customers the worry of being late.
Ian Coyle, Holidays Taxis sales and marketing director, says: “Many consumers think about how to get to and from the airport secondary to the flight details, hotel details, and even what they want to do while on holiday.
“Simply advising them that they can take the hassle out of the beginning and end of their journey in advance by offering them a top and tail transfer will make for a better experience for them, and help your sales targets.”
There are three main transfer options: a private taxi, a shuttle and a coach. Taxis are the most convenient, taking the customer straight to their destination, but tend to be slightly more expensive. Shuttles are smaller and have only a few stops and are good value for money. Coaches are the cheapest option, however, there can be quite a few stops and they can be busy. Coaches depart to a set timetable and child or booster seats aren’t available.
Safety is another selling point for pre-booked transfers. Coyle says: “All of our operators, whether in the UK or abroad, are obliged to meet certain criteria in terms of safety and licensing.”
Sample price: A transfer from Manchester airport into the city centre costs £22 each way with Holiday Taxis.
Whether you’re saving customers a 4am drive to the airport or a long queue in morning rush-hour traffic, airport hotels offer a convenient solution to early morning flights.
Holiday Extras’ James Lewis says: “Whenever agents have customers travelling before 11am they should be flagging up airport hotels. If a customer has a long drive or is expecting bad weather suggest a hotel. When it snows in the UK we sell a lot of airport hotels.”
Value-wise, a package for a hotel and parking is often comparable to parking itself. Some airport hotels such as those at Gatwick or Manchester mean that clients can walk straight from their room to the terminal.
Off-site airport hotels often have big car parks and offer great deals, but the downside is clients have to get a bus transfer. Many hotels work like an airline in terms of pricing; the fewer rooms there are available, the higher the cost.
Sample price: For room-only, the four-star Hilton in Manchester is available from £74, or £86 including eight days’ parking with Holiday Extras.
Airport lounges are a must-sell to all customers looking for a comfortable, quiet place to relax before their flights. Some now even offer luxurious treats such as spa treatments. There are drinks, food, newspapers and magazines, and TV screens.
The No 1 Traveller lounge at Gatwick costs £55 for two people this month, including a champagne cocktail, food and drinks, use of the cinema, games room, and power showers – treatments in the spa are extra. The No 1 Traveller lounge at Heathrow, which boasts the same facilities, costs £70 for two.
Sample price: At Birmingham airport it costs £34.98 for two at the Servisair lounge, which includes complimentary soft and alcoholic drinks, hot food and snacks, all through Essential Travel.
Most car hire companies will offer customers different choices when it comes to collecting a car from an airport. Customers can go to a desk in the terminal to pick up the keys and complete paperwork before being directed to their car, or they can have a meet-and-greet service.
An on-airport site means the car hire company is usually just outside the terminal building, while an off-site company means the customer would have to get a shuttle bus to the desk.
Sandra Downs, head of B2B sales at Holiday Autos, says: “Travel agents offer a one-stop solution through dynamic packaging, earning themselves commission and providing peace of mind for the customer.
“Agents also help clients to save on expensive hotel transfers, avoid car parking costs at the airport and offer greater flexibility to explore their holiday destination.”
Sample price: Car hire from Heathrow with Affordable Car Hire starts from £135 for a Daewoo Matiz through Alamo, for rental this month.
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