Travel businesses are making huge efforts to support NHS staff and other key workers during the coronavirus pandemic. We speak to three companies which have demonstrated their gratitude through giveaways
Travel agents and operators are currently all too familiar with some of the pressures of working tirelessly during the coronavirus crisis. Perhaps that’s why they have been some of the strongest supporters of NHS staff and other key workers during the pandemic.
One way of saying thank you has been to run giveaways for NHS staff. Here we speak to three travel companies which are showing their gratitude to the NHS and frontline staff by giving them something to look forward to once the pandemic subsides.
When Ocky White Travel in Haverfordwest, south Wales, decided to run a special promotion for NHS staff towards the end of March on its Facebook page, the response was overwhelming.
“We wanted to show our support for all the brave and dedicated NHS employees in our local trust, and I thought the way I could best do that was through my business,” explains owner and director Mark White.
“The team and I came up with the idea of offering any NHS employee a discount off a new holiday, or the opportunity to apply the discount retrospectively to an existing booking,” he adds.
The team put the offer out on Facebook, which has been viewed 38,000 times so far and has received 65 comments and almost 600 likes.
“We use Facebook a lot, but we’ve never had a response like this before. First and foremost this was a gesture of goodwill, but it just so happens that it’s caught the attention of the public and our clients,” says White.
White says that he had to think long and hard about which key workers to open the giveaway up to as his two agencies, Ocky White Travel and Milford Haven Travel, are under a lot of financial pressure at this time.
“All the key workers are doing a fantastic job, but the NHS are bearing the brunt of it so we decided to focus on them.”
So far generosity has paid off for White, with the agency picking up one new NHS booking for 2021 worth more than £5,000, with another Lapland enquiry close to confirming. “We have also had half a dozen new enquiries from NHS staff from it,” he adds.
Spires Travel in Worcester was also inspired to help out key workers while trying to think up ideas for content on its social media channels after lockdown came into effect.
“It didn’t feel right advertising holidays, so my staff and I came up with the idea of running a competition to win a trip fully paid for by us,” says manager Paul Knapper.
The competition invited people to nominate key workers to win flights and a three-night city break to Budapest in January 2021 by tagging them in the post on Facebook and writing why that person deserved the prize. More than 100 people were nominated in the first few hours and almost 300 entries were received.
Out of all the amazing stories, one nomination really stood out. It was for Rob Stewart, a paramedic who was nominated by both his best friend and his paramedic girlfriend. The couple were due to marry when the pandemic broke out, but both had chosen to go back to work.
Knapper’s team decided to post a congratulations message on Facebook to surprise the winners rather than telling them directly. “They were almost in tears when they contacted us and couldn’t believe they didn’t need to pay anything. After a bad couple of months, they were thrilled to have something to look forward to,” says Knapper.
The agency has since been inundated with positive feedback, including many goodwill messages from new followers on social media as well as emails from regular clients.
“Like every business, we are losing money hand over foot, but this keeps our social media going and hopefully the cost will be outweighed by the benefit.”
It seems the good deed has resulted in the agency gaining two loyal new clients. Knapper explains: “The winning couple have said that when they are booking their honeymoon they will come to us first for some quotes!”
It’s not just travel agencies that are showing their appreciation. Tour operator Original Travel, based in Putney, London, is currently running a prize giveaway on its website in conjunction with numerous brands and travel partners.
“We came up with the idea to offer an all-inclusive holiday up to the value of £10,000 to a member of the NHS and their family and decided to get other brands involved too, so we could offer lots of different prizes,” says founder Tom Barber. So far more than 130 brands have pledged prizes ranging from holidays to wine and jewellery.
NHS staff can nominate themselves, but the website will soon be updated to let friends and family nominate too, explains Barber. With more than 4,000 entries so far, the operator wants to keep pushing for more nominations before the giveaway ends on 5 July, which coincides with the NHS’s birthday.
Any businesses thinking of doing something similar should note the “real appetite” for campaigns to show appreciation says Barber. “There’s a groundswell of huge appreciation for the NHS in the current climate – it has captured the public mood.”