Cornwall-based Kernow Travel Company is to target the “staycation” market by offering tailor-made trips to the county from the rest of the UK.
Owner Mark Lawther, whose business is located in St Austell, told TTG that he would be using the company’s new Atol to dynamically package trips to Cornwall with flights from the rest of the UK to Newquay.
Lawther, who previously worked for airlines United and Emirates, has established close relationships with nearby Cornwall Airport Newquay to help create packages to the popular UK destination.
“One thing that’s leapt out for me is the massive focus on staycations,” said Lawther. “I don’t think that’s going to go away – there’s been a bit of a mindset shift.
“Here in Cornwall, that’s perfect. Cornwall is the desirable destination for holidaymakers. We can create some beautiful holidays without having to drive for nine hours.
“If somebody up in Glasgow wants a golf weekend down here, they are not going to drive for nine hours to get here. But it works if they fly here instead.”
Kernow Travel has recently become a member of Protected Trust Services, with all customer money protected in a trust account, and has an Atol to book up to 1,000 passengers per year.
Lawther said that while his “initial thought” was to be direct-sell to consumers, he added he would “look at ways of marketing to agents as well”.
“I’m big on partnerships so it would be ridiculous to say: ‘you’ve got to book with me direct’,” he said. “I will work with the trade and come to a reasonable solution that works for everybody.”
The company has also just opened an office in central St Austell where Lawther can meet clients to discuss their holiday requirements.
“I will focus on the dynamic packaging tour operating side rather than being a retail agent,” explained Lawther. “But if somebody wants to fly somewhere with easyJet or Jet2holidays, I can book that as well.
“The office is a professional environment with nice easy chairs – somewhere I want people to come and talk about their holidays and where they want to go.”
Looking further ahead, Lawther wants to offer tailor-made holidays using Newquay’s flights to UK hub airports for long-haul breaks to destinations such as Florida and beyond.
But he admitted this plan depended on who eventually takes on the four-year PSO (public service obligation) contract to operate flights between Cornwall and London. British Airways is currently operating on the route on a temporary basis.
“We don’t know where the PSO route is going to go,” he added. “It depends on who wins a tender. But the staycation product is here and I’m really excited about it.”
As part of his promotional efforts, Lawther has also launched a Kernow Travel Company podcast working with local production specialist Cornwall Channel.