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AGENCY BOSSES


Jeanne Lally


Jacqueline Dobson


Trevor Davis


Peter Shanks


Tony Roberts


Travel Weekly webcasts: The outlook for retail, cruising and marketing were amo CRUISE LINE CHIEFS


Travel Weekly’s Lucy Huxley


Lucy Huxley


Antonio Paradiso, MSC Cruises


‘Travel shops will survive but retailing will change’


T


ravel agents claim working practices will change once the coronavirus pandemic


ends – but deny this will mean abandoning the high street. The experience of businesses


having to make staff work from home in the current crisis was bound to impact how they will operate in the future, three leading agents said. But they were adamant that their businesses, and those of the industry in general, would continue to operate shops on the high street. Barrhead Travel was in the


process of expanding its 95-store group-wide network when the pandemic hit. President Jacqueline Dobson confirmed store openings would continue in the future but not until the timing was right. “It [the coronavirus crisis] will


change the way businesses operate,” she said. “We still have these new stores just about to open; we will open them when the time is right.” Trevor Davis, group operations


director of miniple Spear Travels, said: “[The crisis] will change the


12 23 APRIL 2020


I don’t think retail is dead but this will change how we all work. It will come down to costs


way travel agents work and the way customers book their holidays. A lot of people will think ‘I can run it without having a high street store’. That’s not our plan.” Travel Bureau joint managing


director Jeanne Lally said: “If someone had told the team from the beginning of March ‘you will all be working from home’, I think I would have had a riot on my hands, but everyone has adapted to it. “I don’t think retail is dead but this


will change how we all work. It will come down to costs. Shops will need to be there but we have learnt a lot as a business. People have discovered they can do things in a different way.” Meanwhile, the agents said there


were positive signs in terms of future bookings, with new business coming in, particularly for long-haul holidays and cruises.


New cruise ships ‘will be delayed but not cancelled’


C


ruise lines will not cancel any orders for new ships in the wake of the coronavirus


pandemic, but schedules for delivery of new tonnage will have to be adjusted. Princess Cruises’ vice-president for the UK & Europe, Tony Roberts, said: “Once the shipyards get up and running and can return to normal business, we will continue to see those ships that are planned continue to be built and delivered, albeit to a slightly new schedule. You will see delays to the timings of ship launches. “The other thing we are going to


have to take into account is where we base these ships. Which areas are going to open up first and which areas are going to have to wait a bit longer? But we are not cancelling anything.” Referring to a delay to the delivery


and naming of new ship Enchanted Princess, Roberts added: “It’s


unfortunate but inevitable. It would not be right to proceed with ship- naming celebrations at the moment, nor would it be logistically possible.”


Which [cruise


regions] are going to open up first and which will wait a bit longer?


The panel also agreed cruise


lines will have to make “significant changes” to onboard operations in the wake of the pandemic. Peter Shanks, Silversea Cruises’


managing director for the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. If you go back 10 years, norovirus was prevalent and seen as a cruise ship issue, but the work that’s been done there has been terrific. We have educated travel partners, consumers and travel journalists about that. “Now we have to start that all


over again. But I’m confident the ambition of the industry will be to go above and beyond what people would expect so that we can safely welcome people back onto our ships in the future.”


travelweekly.co.uk


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