Tour operators must play the hand they’ve been dealt during the Covid-19 pandemic and be willing to adapt quickly to changes on travel restrictions, says the boss of Jet2holidays.
Speaking as part of Travel Weekly’s Future of Travel Week, chief executive Steve Heapy said operators must react as and when situations such as quarantine change.
“We’ve got to be careful as, and an industry, not to put all our efforts into moaning about things,” he said. “We’ve been dealt a hand of cards. Alright, it’s not the best hand [but] it’s what we have and we’ve got to make the best of it. We’ve got to be fast-moving. We’ve got to listen to customers, we’ve got to do the best for customers. And just get on with it. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Jet2holidays has made “very rapid changes” to its programme to get customers on holiday, said Heapy, adding: “That’s still what they want”. He said: “Holidays are still very much an essential purchase rather than a commoditised purchase and people want to escape and get their bits of sunshine.”
Speaking from Constantinou Bros’ Asimina Suites hotel in Cyprus, he said: “People are very happy. I was talking to them breakfast probably the last thing they wanted, but I was asking them what they thought about it and they’re very happy to be away. Their flight experience was OK with the masks on but now they’re in the hotels they’re happy and they’re having a normal holiday. So it can be done.”
Heapy said people “absolutely” want to get away this summer if possible. “Nobody likes to hassle when they have a holiday cancelled but very often people have booked the week or two weeks off work,” he said. “They can’t just change it; they’re in a rotor system or they can’t change the holiday or they’re not allowed to. So they either sit at home watching banal daytime TV, or they go on holiday, and they do want to go.”
And he explained that contact centre staff were calling customers to tell them which destinations are still available, and “lots of people are taking that up” and many witching from Western to Eastern Mediterranean holidays.
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