Jet2holidays has started selling packages from Stansted with the first departures due for take off on March 30. The tour operator’s head of trade Alan Cross tells Rob Gill about the brand’s first foray into southern England
How are sales going for Stansted and what booking trends have you noticed?
Demand has been so strong for our package holidays that we’ve already decided to add a seventh aircraft at Stansted. This has allowed us to add another four summer routes: Antalya, Dalaman, Corfu and Split. This means we have 25 routes from Stansted this summer. We are also going to increase frequencies to key destinations such as Majorca, Menorca, Crete and Zante in the peak summer season.
Stansted’s not been a package holiday area in the past and there is a huge catchment area. There’s been strong demand for our packages from families and couples, with many looking for all-inclusive packages.
What are the USPs of your Stansted programme and how do you differentiate from your competitors?
The package market from Stansted has been very limited. What we are offering is a lot of frequency to key destinations: we’re flying to Benidorm, Costa del Sol and Portugal seven days a week. This gives people the flexibility they want these days. Seven nights is still popular but sometimes it can actually be cheaper to go for eight nights because of different flight prices. Also, if somebody cannot afford to go away for 14 days, they could compromise and go for 12 nights instead. Our frequencies allow customers to do this.
How are you reaching out to agents in Stansted’s catchment area?
Agents in the area have been crying out for the packages and are showing a lot of curiosity. We already have one sales executive for the area and are recruiting for a second. It’s quite a big catchment area and covers areas such as Peterborough that are not even really in the south.
We are working with independent agencies, offering them window stickers and other sales material. We’ve also purchased two trailers that we’re using as mobile travel agencies and can be joint branded with an agency. The idea is to take them to festivals or events within a 2 to 5-mile radius of their agency. We’ve even talked to homeworkers about using their wheelie bins for advertising.
What does a Jet2holidays package offer?
We have reps out in resort, as well as a 24-hour emergency service, a hold bag allowance of 22 kilogrammes, full Atol protection, as well as free child and infant places. In certain destinations, such as Benidorm and Tenerife, we also offer an in-resort check-in service at particular hotels. It’s currently available at 70 hotels and we’re looking to increase that. Another USP is that we offer a £60pp deposit that is available all year round with no time limits.
What type of clients are you targeting from Stansted?
The family market is very strong – particularly for all-inclusives, with people beginning to realise that it’s getting more expensive to eat out because of the strong euro. Couples are also a key market for us with our Indulgent Escapes programme of five-star luxury hotels going very well out of Stansted. We also want to target the youth market with our dedicated On Tour brand to destinations like Ibiza and Majorca. There’s a slightly different trend with them as they tend to book later – in February and March.
What add-ons can agents book for their clients?
From Stansted, agents can earn commission through add-ons such as meals, extra legroom and preferred seating on our flights. There’s also no admin fee for amending bookings as long as there is an uplift in the fare, which makes it easy to extend a holiday from 10 to 14 nights if clients change their plans.