Many kids’ clubs will be open and excursions will go ahead as Tui’s summer holiday programme gets underway.
Speaking at TTG’s Restart Travel: Holidays are go! seminar yesterday (8 July), Richard Sofer, Tui UK & Ireland’s commercial and business development director detailed some of the changes and protocols in place in the resorts the operator will offer this summer, and onboard its aircraft.
Tui, which is “guaranteeing quarantine-free holidays” to “ensure a great experience”, will offer eight destinations across Spain and Greece starting tomorrow (11 July), from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham.
Passengers will need to wear face coverings and the aircraft will be fully disinfected and cleaned between each flight. “Hospital grade” filters on the aircraft kill 99.7% of bacteria.
The movement of cabin crew will be limited, with passengers asked to take as few items onboard as possible.
Customers will need to wear facemasks during transfers.
“We want guests to have as normal an experience as possible,” said Sofer.
Tui has worked with all its hotel partners, running training sessions and webinars to make sure staff know the protocols and done evaluations of key facilities, such as cleaning the entire resort before gusts arrive and other hygiene and cleanliness routines throughout guests’ stay. These include social distancing and managing customer flow by the pool and in restaurants, for example.
Hotels are also asked to complete a health check before customers arrive to make sure they are ready and safe for guests and crew.
Tables in restaurants will be at least 1-2 metres apart, depending on local restrictions.
There will be a standard health check that applies to all hotels regardless of that the brand is – a minimum standard. Because each concept will have slightly different amenities, there will be additions according to what is required. E.g. if there is a spa it needs to be a “safe operation” – e.g. reduced numbers at any one time. “But we will extend hours to enable more people to enjoy them,” said Sofer.
Around the pool
Separate groups or families will be asked to remain at least 1.5 metres apart from other groups, but will be allowed to sunbathe together, for example.
“We’ll be asking the hotel teams to manage that,” said Sofer. “They’re not going to be sun bed police – but the waitress and waiter teams will be managing that to ensure safe distances are maintained.”
Sofer added that many of the hotels and resorts it operates already “have a lot of space”.
“And we know that because we’ve got a ramp up in our operations, it’s not going to be the usual occupancy levels which will help with space,” he said.
He added: “We’re not capping capacity – it’s just a fact at the moment. In august we’ll probably only be operating about 45% of our planned [air] capacity, similar to other operators. This naturally suppresses the volume.
“Of course in the future we want resorts to be back to their normal occupancy, but [reduced capacity] is going to help in this initial phase.”
“All-inclusive remains really popular because it’s a great value option for people,” said Sofer.
“And one part is the buffet restaurant and the a la carte. There will need to be restrictions in place for that.
“We will have fewer people in the restaurants at any one time because they’ll need to be spread out.
“Some hotels may man the buffet and serve customers. Some will plate up and it will feel more like tapas. It just won’t be self-service.” He added: “Some will put table service in place too, which will feel more premium.”
A la carte
Sofer said the a la carte offering would be operating “pretty much as normal” but with fewer covers. “But we will look to extend hours,” he said.
“Most of the a la carte will operate pre-booking service anyway,” he said. “Some will, others will be first-come-fist-served and the queues will be socially distanced.”
Sofer said it was “important customers are really aware of peak times so we can spread out those visitors”.
Sofer said kids' club openings would be dependent on destination.
“There might be some restrictions that mean they can only be run outside or in reduced numbers,” he said. “They will likely be more outdoor, have less capacity, but likewise have extended hours.
“We absolutely appreciate the benefit they provide. We’re doing everything we can to operate as many kids' clubs and creches as possible.
“There will of course be some restrictions.
Sofer reassured delegates that in “extreme situations” where Tui is not able to open kids' clubs, it will be letting customers know so they can amend their holiday if desired.
“These are a bit more challenging as excursions often require going on transport,” said Sofer.
“We need to ensure people have their own personal protective masks, but that doesn’t mean excursions can’t operate subject to the regulations in the destination.
“It may mean some excursions can’t happen, but as long as attractions are open and enjoyable we’ll endeavour to take customers on those excursions.
“We’re still looking to run as full an excursion programme as we can.”
Sofer advised finding out which we're running on arrival, with customers able to switch or get a refund if an excursion they booked isn’t running.
More information about the health measures Tui is taking can be found on the Tui website. Customers can also download the Tui app for direct access to reps.