Jet2holidays held its first overseas conference for the trade last week. The event, with a 'Partnership to Success' theme, was attended by 118 delegates. Jennifer Morris reports from Majorca
Balearics eco-tax could 'hurt' travel companies
The boss of Jet2holidays and Jet2.com has warned that a tourist tax on the Balearic Islands could “hurt” travel companies.
Steve Heapy said Majorca was the group’s second-biggest seller after Alicante.
The government wants to introduce a daily tourist eco-tax of €1-€2 a person, including cruise passengers, to raise money to protect the environment.
A consultation period on the proposals, which would likely come into effect on May 1 if approved by parliament, ended last month.
“Introducing this tax could hurt demand and is going to make holidays more expensive,” said Heapy. “The holiday companies will have to pass that cost on and it could hurt them. I think it is the wrong thing to do.
“The tourism industry is doing well – to tax something that is a huge part of the Balearics economy is the wrong thing to do.”
Abta is lobbying to reverse the decision and has written to the Balearic government. Heapy said Jet2 had spoken to government officials through Abta.
“We’ve lobbied as part of a group,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll listen, but we’ll see.”
The islands, which attract almost 3.5 million visitors from the UK each year, scrapped a similar tax in 2003 just a year after it was introduced.
A spokesman for the Balearics government said: “The aim is to preserve this paradise, which so many Britons visit year after year.”
Terrorist atrocities 'swing' bookings towards operators
More holidaymakers are expected to choose to book with tour operators in the wake of this year’s terrorist atrocities.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2holidays and Jet2.com, made the claim when discussing the impact of recent events in Egypt and Paris.
“We have all seen bookings slow down since the atrocities in Paris –the market is slow at the moment,” he said.
“We’re doing OK. We are in the slide now to Christmas. The market is shrinking by the day and I think a lot of people delayed their decisions, so it’s probably not right to offer incentives at the moment.
“We constantly keep our eye on events in the world and, obviously, Tunisia was terrible.
“Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to control or prevent them [terrorist atrocities]. We just have to be ready to react when they happen.
“One of the things we stressed today is that being a large package-tours operator, we have got the infrastructure to be able to respond to these events and look after our customers when they happen.
“You’ve heard horror stories from Sharm el-Sheikh of people who booked a dynamic package and were stranded because there was no one to look after them.
“Myself and my senior team flew out to Tunisia following the terrible events. That’s one of the things that should swing the decision for people because they want to book with a reputable tour operator that can provide this support when bad things happen.”
Jet2holidays has a 24-hour emergency help line and can also set-up a dedicated call centre to respond to specific incidents.
Heapy told the conference that some of its Turkey capacity had been removed.
In the half year to September 30, Jet2holidays handled 940,000 holidaymakers – a year-on-year rise of 22%. Jet2.com’s flight-only carryings fell 13.7% to 2.65 million.
Remote check-in trial to be extended
Jet2holidays is to begin rolling out a flight check-in service at hotels after a trial indicated it would influence which properties customers selected.
The service allows holidaymakers to take their passport to their hotel reception and check in for their flight home before leaving for the airport.
The hotel’s reception staff then print off tags for guests’ luggage, which is delivered to the airport separately.
The operator began the trial in 10 hotels in Benidorm in April and has seen a 90% take-up.
The service will be extended to Alicante over the winter.
Jet2holidays’ commercial director, Steve Lee, said: “We’re already planning to introduce it in Majorca and the Canary Islands.
“A total of 84% of customers said it would affect their choice of hotel.”
Asked whether the service would pose a security risk, Lee said: “The security standards are exactly the same as if you were checking in a bag at the airport. There is no compromise to security.”
Jet2holidays creates own resort videos
Jet2holidays will add exclusive videos of about 20 of its hotels to its website in January, to help agents sell its packages.
Jet2’s head of marketing, Gavin Forth, described the content as “brilliant for helping agents close a sale by turning screens around”.
General manager for trade Alan Cross said: “We are always developing when it comes to the website – it’s a sales tool rather than a booking tool, which is a big difference from a lot of other systems.”
Chief executive Steve Heapy added: “We didn’t like the quality of the videos you buy. We wanted to create a certain feeling and excitement, so we had our own done.”
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