Carrier has found itself “in the black” for the first time since the coronavirus crisis took hold and global travel was halted.
Managing director Mark Duguid said it felt like a milestone for the business, reaching a stage when there were more new bookings coming in than cancellations or refunds going out.
The operator has also rolled out its Blue Skies Ahead initiative to try and gently bring business back.
The Blue Skies campaign includes an online magazine that agents can share with clients featuring specific trips that pay heed to luxury travellers’ perceived new desire for higher degrees of privacy and space when now considering trips.
Blue Skies focuses on “exclusive collaborations, privacy and seclusion and unique experiences” in Europe, and had included exclusive use of the private island of Tagomago off Ibiza for September with private jet flights and private transfers, but the campaign was prepared before the government’s latest developments on quarantine to the island.
“We have since removed the Spanish itineraries from the campaign,” Duguid said. “We do have clients in Spain right now, and all are more than happy to continue with their holiday as planned. A number of bookings due to depart this week are impacted, with a couple opting for Greece instead rather than cancelling altogether. We’re in touch with all agents who have clients due to depart for Spain in August and are talking through options.”
Also suggested in Blue Skies is staying on a superyacht in the South of France for up to 12 people for seven nights, again with private jet flights from London to Nice (from £342,000 per group, based on 12 people sharing), while other options include hotel favourites such as Forte Village and Borgo Ignazia, all including private airport experiences and private transfers.
The initial Blue Skies Ahead ideas are to be followed up by a second edition this week, featuring up to 30 trips and resorts.
“Our Europe team are all back from furlough now and are rushed off their feet, and we are getting some very last-minute requests,” Duguid said.
“We’ll obviously focus on places it seems viable to suggest to clients. We were always going to add more itineraries elsewhere such as Italy, Greece and Switzerland, and further drops are in the pipeline for Blue Skies Ahead … all dependent on FCO and quarantine advice of course.”
Carrier has been hailed by Which? for its efforts in refunding customers during the crisis, with the business refunding £6 million of bookings but also managing a significant amount of rebooks, Duguid said.
He added it was a stance that had not gone un-noticed by agents either. “We have definitely seen enquiries and interest from agents that are new to us; half of our new bookings have been from agents who didn’t use us before.”
He added it had been important to offer quickly adaptable, clear, concise communication, both internally and for agents.
Carrier is also rolling out a new insurance partnership, which sees the operator become what is know as an “introducer appointed representative” for insurers Campbell Irvine.
The move means agents can be referred onto a company able to offer a wide range of Covid-inclusive kinds of cover and relevant for ultra-luxury travel, Duguid said.
“We know insurance has been a big issue for agents and clients, so a new relationship via Campbell Irvine will allow for more flexible policies – in particular in our case, a policy that covers higher-value bookings,” Duguid said. “Policies often only provide cover for around £3,000 in booking value – ours are often much higher than that.
“It’s all about removing barriers to sale at the moment.”