Roadmap to Recovery Travel Weekly webcasts: Adapting and rebuilding were among themes VIRGIN ATLANTIC’S LEE HASLETT


Steve Heapy

Weekly’s Lucy Huxley

‘We’ve all got to change the way we operate’


ravel agents may have to “do different things and change their models slightly” to survive the

Covid-19 crisis, according to the boss of Jet2holidays. Chief executive Steve Heapy said:

“We’re worried about high streets because they are very quiet at the moment. Will they ever get back to normal? Who knows? We’ve got to work with the government and the authorities and our travel agent partners to try and get people back on the high street. “We’ve all got to be proactive

because, in my opinion, the worst thing an independent travel agent can do is sit there and wait for people to come back.” Heapy said Jet2holidays was going

to “do its part” by introducing an independent agent finder function on its website to direct customers to their local agent should they want to book with someone face-to-face. “In the next three months, we’ll

implement our independent travel agent finder on our direct website. We said we would do this at our

10 30 JULY 2020

Agents may have to find business by giving out leaflets, using Zoom or doing house visits

last two conferences and we’ve had other priorities. We’ve been trying to develop lots of new tools for agents and customers and it’s one thing that we didn’t do. But now is the time to do it.” Heapy said agents and local

councils also had to play a role in bringing customers back to the high street. “Local councils should suspend

some of their rules and maybe have more al fresco activities out on the pavements,” he said. “Or travel agents may have to

go and find business by giving out leaflets. Work your own marketing database; maybe use Zoom; maybe do house visits. We’ve all got to change the way we operate.” Heapy confirmed Jet2holidays

would shortly be starting TV adverts again, all of which include a call to action to visit a local travel agent.

Lee Haslett

Travel Weekly’s Lucy Huxley

‘Our new sales team is here and we’re ready to rebuild’


irgin Atlantic has reshuffled its trade sales team and is to launch an agency incentive scheme

that was postponed due to Covid-19 as it looks to rebuild its business. Lee Haslett, the airline’s vice-

president of sales, admitted there had been a “reduction” in overall headcount in his team but said he had made changes to better support trade partners. Sara Andell, who was head of leisure

sales, is staying within Haslett’s team but will now be heading up market development. Nicola Goldsmith, who was head of product and purchasing at Virgin Holidays, has joined the team as head of leisure sales for Virgin Atlantic. Haslett added that he had “built

a new team to support agents with day-to-day enquiries”, led by head of sales operations Charlotte Preston. He said: “Some of the team are

furloughed at the moment, but we’ve just brought a number of them back into the business in July to make sure we start engaging and supporting [agents] as we return to flying.”

We want to look at

what we can do with [our new agency incentive scheme] going into Q4

Haslett said Virgin Atlantic had

increased its workforce from a sales perspective by 20% in July, following staff being furloughed during lockdown, and said he would look at increasing it further into September and October. Haslett added that he was planning

to launch a new agency incentive scheme which had been postponed due to the pandemic. “We haven’t got a date yet of when

we’ll announce it but we absolutely want to look at what we can do with that piece of work going into Q4, and then into what we all hope is a very good peak trading period in January,” he said. “It’s been a difficult period and we

know we’ve got some work to do. But we’re here; the new team is here; and we’re ready to start rebuilding now.”

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