At the moment we are all armchair travellers, but Silver Travel Advisor’s partner companies are continuing to work hard for the time when we can travel in the UK and abroad once more. Jeannine Williamson caught up with Daniel Adams, Head of Product & Marketing for One Traveller, which offers fully escorted holidays exclusively for the mature single traveller. Here he explains what the company had been doing during lockdown, his predictions for the future and some exciting things to look forward to.
How has One Traveller been helping customers during the Covid-19 outbreak?
Our guests’ peace of mind and mental wellbeing was one of our first priorities. Prior to lockdown, when the government advised the vulnerable and over 70s to self-isolate for three months, as well as seeing that other countries starting lockdown, we cancelled all departures for three months. We assessed this again in May and looked at when travel bans will be lifted to the places we travel to and made the hugely brave step to not commence departures until 1 September, when we feel most destinations will be ready for visitors. We aimed to be as clear as possible and guests were also able to transfer holidays for a later date with all administration charges waived. Our web and marketing team then created our Stay at Home section on our website for those isolating, especially for those who lived alone. This offers a range of practical support such as avoiding lockdown scams, using technology to set up online meetings with friends to a range of online quizzes, theatre and opera performances as well as virtual city and museum tours which keep the idea of travel alive. This has been a great success and will now become a permanent fixture for people to enjoy in their downtime between holidays.
What feedback have you had from guests during lockdown?
We have found that our guests are raring to travel again. Initially, it could be split into three groups; those that were ready to travel as soon as possible and booking ahead, those who were cautiously optimistic but would wait for better news before booking again and then people who need to hear definite news before booking. We have been exceedingly lucky with over 80% of all guests either re-booking for 2021 or later in the year and even using their balances for festive holidays. The majority feel that time has been lost and that they need to recapture as soon as possible. We really are truly thankful for the loyalty our guests have shown to us.
How have you and the team been spending your days?
Time has been spent getting 2021 holidays ready earlier than usual for our guests to plan ahead and have something to look forward to. Outside of that, I have brushed up, and enhanced my BSL (British Sign Language) skills. The team at One Traveller also engaged in a sponsored charity walk around our own gardens for our local hospital’s special care baby unit, walking 105 miles between us. Our Director Ian Darkin’s twins Francesca Grace and Edith Hope were born in December and spent 105 days in the unit (part during lockdown) and are little miracles. It was a great way for the team to stay connected as well and work together for a good cause.
The team has coped amazingly, and constantly reassured guests that their monies were protected and that they could transfer bookings without charges. The team also called guests on cancelled departures to discuss their options. With the initial level of insecurity and mixed information in the media, guests were anxious and at times calls were not easy but they have been fantastic in taking the time to chat and offering peace of mind. The team worked tirelessly to ensure that we had 2021 holidays on sale and launched. The pride they have shown in the company and devotion to our guests has been outstanding.
How do you think Covid-19 will impact the future of travel?
Currently we are seeing that some will take more holidays to make up for lost time but some will be more cautious and may start with one of our extended range of UK breaks. Shorter European holiday could also be popular, to help regain confidence.
When travel resumes what destinations do you see as up and coming ‘hot spots’?
Destinations that have coped well during the recent months and seen a lower impact, and where people will feel comfortable to travel initially, will be the areas people will gravitate towards. Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Southern Italy, Scandinavian countries and the Czech Republic have returned to normality very quickly and scenic holidays offering scenery, open spaces and tranquillity will be those that people will initially consider. Further afield Georgia, which is locked in by mountains, and countries that have the infrastructure to cope with the pandemic are poised to do well. Which for us means Morocco, Oman, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.
What news do you have to share with Silver Travel Advisor?
We’ve just launched an eight-day holiday to Vienna staying in the Vienna Woods which features a performance of the Spanish Riding School and dinner and concert in the Kursalon, where Strauss performed. We will again be offering two European river cruises on sole charters purely for mature single travellers, with each guest having their own double cabin and plenty of space on board with all meals, drinks, excursions, gratuities and many extras included. These are on the Rhone, visiting the Ardeche, Camargue and Provence, and the Danube, and are in addition to our Cairo and Nile cruise sole charters.
Is there a final message you’d like to pass on to One Traveller guests?
A huge thank you for the patience and loyalty in the last months. We have been buoyed by some lovely comments, even gifts of cakes and biscuits and it really has kept the team going. Our tour managers around the world have missed our guests and are raring to get travelling again and they have been moved by the concern on how they have been faring. It has been a challenging time and we really look forward to having our guests come back to join our family and making travelling the wonderful social exploration that it is!
Silver Travel Advisor recommends One Traveller.