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NEWS industry on the first two days of Travel Weekly’s Future of Travel Week. By Ian Taylor and Ben Ireland


FUTURE WEEK


September 14-18, 2020


REGISTER FOR THE FINAL TWO DAYS


Thursday Sept 17 Focus on cruise


Focus on digital transformation friday Sept 18


Focus on distribution Future outlook


Register for free at:


www2.travelweekly.co.uk/ future-of-travel


EVENT SPONSORS In partnership with


Heapy: Industry must make best of cards it’s been dealt


T Lisa McAuley


our operators accept they must play the hand they’ve been dealt during the Covid-19 pandemic and be willing to adapt quickly to changes on travel restrictions.


Jet2holidays chief executive Steve Heapy said operators


must react as and when situations such as quarantine change. “We’ve got to be careful as 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, do the best for customers and get on with it.” 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.” Heapy said he did not expect Jet2.com to make further


redundancies but also did not expect the government’s furlough scheme to last beyond its current October 31 end date. “Everybody should plan on that basis,” he said. In a separate Future of Travel Week panel, Sunvil


chairman Noel Josephides called on the government to extend the guarantee of financial protection for refund


Bowen: Operators may say ‘pay direct’


Tour operators could begin to insist agents’ customers pay them directly after cashflow problems emerged following a string of crises. Legal advisor Alan Bowen said the


Association of Atol Companies set up a working group after the collapse of Thomas Cook last year to look at the re- lationship between operators and agents. He said it found that about 70 tour


operators selling through Thomas Cook lost “either hundreds of thousands or millions of pounds”. Bowen said things were “doubly worse” this year as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. “We were beginning, in November


last year, to look at the possibility of saying to some agents ‘we require you to get the customer to pay us directly and we will pay you the commission’ – because what we found with Thomas Cook was that the losses were 10-15 times greater than people were expecting.” He said the option


of paying “direct to principal” is used in the US and by some cruise lines.


Steve Heapy


credit notes past the end of September. He also expected furlough to end on October 31. Lisa McAuley, managing director of dnata UK’s B2B


brands, agreed. She said: “It’s highly unlikely, and that’s not throwing criticism at anybody. There are other industries out there that are also suffering.” She warned: “Don’t forecast and plan your operation on something that isn’t concrete.”


Jet2 boss warns high street agencies must adapt to town centre changes


The high street “does have a future” but it is “going to have to be different”, Jet2holidays chief Steve Heapy predicts. He said businesses such


as travel agencies, through which roughly a quarter of the operator’s holidays are sold, must adapt with the times. “The question is whether


Alan Bowen travelweekly.co.uk


people will travel into a town centre to book a holiday,” he said, noting: “The reason for visiting town centres is reducing because businesses are closing. People need a reason to go.”


Heapy called on local


authorities to reduce business rates and scrap parking charges but warned: “What travel agents can’t do is just sit there saying ‘it’s not fair’.” He predicted that town


centres may become more residential, suggesting: “You’ll get more people in flats, and when you get that there’ll be more bars and restaurants opening, and because there are more bars and restaurants, retail shops might open and it might reinvigorate that way.”


17 SEPTEMBER 2020 11


PICTURE: Steve Dunlop


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