e with guest speakers highlighting the challenges – and opportunities – of travel’s revival INTREPID TRAVEL


Tony Mann

Intrepid’s Zina

Bencheikh and James Thornton

Sue Alexander

xxx Phil Evans

Intrepid admits sector’s revival is ‘challenging’


he return of group adventure travel will be “challenging”, according to the global boss of the

Intrepid Group. James Thornton, chief executive

of Intrepid Travel’s parent company, said travel around the world was likely to recover in “two tiers” as some parts opened up faster than others. The Australia-based travel group

has suspended global operations until September 30 but some itineraries, such as its new Intrepid Retreats and its Urban Adventures brand, are due to restart in July. Thornton said travel for the

operator’s Australia and New Zealand client base was likely to restart later, with borders due to remain closed until early 2021. “We’re seeing the opportunity

to get UK, European and North American travellers travelling on our worldwide product range,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get some

trips operating in quarter four, from October onwards, but obviously we’ll have to wait and see.” Group travel was particularly

difficult under the current health restrictions, he conceded, saying: “It’s going to be challenging. Safety is our biggest priority.” Thornton said the operator was

“investigating” chartering its own transport rather than using local suppliers. Tour leaders would also be trained to ensure they meet World Travel & Tourism Council health and safety protocols, he added, and revealed increased demand for active and wilderness tours in the wake of holidaymakers spending so much time at home during lockdown. Thornton thanked UK agents

for their support despite conceding Intrepid Travel had not responded “as quickly as we could have” with refunds at the start of the crisis. He said the operator recognised

it was too slow initially to provide customer refunds and had since accelerated the process, with refunds requested by 4,221 of 55,000 clients. Intrepid bookings were down year

on year by 98% in April and 89% in May, but Thornton said sales were now

coming in, mainly for post-Easter 2021. i News You Can Use, page 16

‘We must tell clients their holidays will be different’


gents need to be clear with customers that their holidays may not be what they are used

to when travel initially resumes. Tony Mann, managing director

of Idle Travel in Bradford, said: “It’s about educating and knowing what to expect. I’ve said [on the radio station that I appear on] for the last few weeks that travel is not going to be what it used to be. The hotel will only be partly full, so expect different meal times etc.” He said the onus was on agents

to explain to their customers what they should expect when they travel. “There’s more and more

information out there to get people understanding that travel will have changed, whether that’s in the UK, or abroad. It’s definitely going to alter at the beginning.” Agents also said they expect to

be dealing with a growing number of queries from clients who don’t feel comfortable about travelling, even if their holidays are due to go ahead.

Travel will have

changed – definitely in the beginning – both in the UK and abroad

Sue Alexander, director of Eagle

Travel in Bedford, said: “With September holidays approaching, we have got people who have said they’re a little bit daunted about the idea of going this year.” She said the majority of tour

operators had done an excellent job of allowing customers to postpone to later dates, but there may be some cases where airlines may not refund if their flights are operating. “I think that with their flexible

terms and conditions, we’ll still be OK to postpone and move them to another day,” Alexander said. “But it’s a difficult one because a lot of the airlines will be operating. “Luckily, the majority of the

people that we’ve got in September are either hoping for the best, or are looking to go next year instead.”

25 JUNE 2020


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