Tailormade tour operator, Original Travel has seen business boosted with 62% of bookings taken in 2022 coming from new clients, up from 40% on the same period pre-pandemic.
Anecdotally, many of these new clients are not just new to Original Travel, but new to tour operators entirely and whilst repeat business and happy clients is a source of pride for the company, new clients means growth; growth that Original Travel attributes to travellers seeking the safety net of a tour operator during this uncertain time – and splurging on bigger, more adventurous trips.
Despite travelling getting gradually easier, the sustained period of fast-changing rules, closed borders and shifting restrictions, has dented consumer confidence in planning a holiday – and should the worse happen and a trip gets cancelled, there are so many obstacles to overcome, from language barriers to time differences to wrangling refunds from multiple companies. Book with a tour operator and all that is taken care of; clients can enjoy all the holiday, with none of the admin. No surprise then that a recent ABTA survey showed that 7 out of 10 would be more likely to book with an ABTA member.
Book with Original Travel – a member of both ABTA and ATOL - and there are a raft of unique services to help even further, from flexibility that allows clients to change their dates or destination up to 30 days prior to departure; an insurance policy that includes covid-related cancellations; a network of Concierges - local, on-the-ground contacts to facilitate any last-minute changes; and airport services to fast-track through check-in and security and guarantee lounge access, even if you’re flying economy.
Tom Barber, Founder of Original Travel, says: "We have all been dreaming, planning and anticipating 2022’s holidays for nearly two years, so it’s no surprise that Original Travel is welcoming new clients who haven’t booked with a tour operator before - and welcoming back previous clients who are returning to us after turning to the “dark side” of DIY holidays. The normal 60/40 split of repeat bookers and new clients has been flipped on its head this year so far. The common factor is that people want their much-anticipated trips to be absolutely perfect, and that means booking with people who really know their destinations, such as tour operators like Original Travel, who also offer financial protection, help in navigating the new and ever-changing rules and booking flexibility to allow for unavoidable changes.
"The types of holidays we’ve been booking for our new clients are highly itinerised with lots of moving parts, made up of multiple destinations, excursions, activities and – in an increasing number of cases – travelling by train instead of plane. They are complicated and time-consuming trips to plan and book – in fact, our research has shown that booking through us can reduce the time spent planning a trip from 16 hours to two, the number of websites visited from 27 to four and the number of calls made and emails sent from 10 to one and 13 to five respectively".
Alex Carey, Head of Sales and Services for Original Travel, adds: "We have repatriated stranded clients and made numerous last-minute changes over the course of the pandemic and all it took them was one phone call to us. Gratifyingly, we are now starting to see repeat business from those clients. As an example, when Grenada changed the rules for entry for non-vaccinated teens, we had to divert a family travelling there with us with just 24-hours’ notice, sending them to an alternative Caribbean island, which they enjoyed so much that they have just booked to go back."