Just returned from what I hope will be a very successful Familiarisation trip to North Cyprus. We met on time at Heathrow's impressive Terminal 5 and group check-in was not too bad. Everyone seemed quite bright and cheerful for 06.30hrs and we proceeded without incident to Departures for our BA flight with the very grumpy stewardess who fell asleep at the back of the plane for quite a while. On arriving at Larnaca, we were met by a gleeful Sabina Shaida, MD of Mosaic Holidays, and ushered to luxury mini-buses to Nicosia where we crossed the border very smoothly and were at our hotel within 1hr 45 ins of landing. We visited some fabulous places over the next 4 days, and some quite humbling too, learnt lots about the history and conflicts, and felt the genuine warmth of the local people. This is one of the very few short haul destinations which retains its authenticity, and takes pride in doing so. It is not commercialised but has all the modern amenities, restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and hotels required for the ideal holiday. We all enjoyed sitting at Kyrenia Harbour in the evenings, drinking the local wine and enjoying the Nargila (water pipe otherwise known as hubbly bubbly).
Caught up with Janice Grant of Marry in Style today. I've known Janice for years as she has been in the travel industry even longer than myself, and has embarked on a new venture of arranging people's weddings for them. I have to admit, she is perfectly suited for this - she is everything I'm not - articulate, organised and efficient. She is also someone that stands no nonsense from suppliers, an important attribute in ensuring a show runs smoothly - and she has handled numberous groups, conferences, meetings and incentive groups. The MICE market will not be the same without her, though I'm sure she will keep her hand in. So, if you or anyone you know are looking for a wedding planner / organiser, whether it be an Indian, Jewish, Christian or any other denomination, be sure to visit: http://www.marryinstyle.co.uk/ .Janice and her busness partner Farhana are certainly a team to ensure you have exactly what you want, when you want - and are brimming with ideas.
An interesting last few weeks launching Mosaic Holidays new North Cyprus brochure. Feedback is extremely positive, and the travel agents love the quality, feel and contents. But does that mean they will support Mosaic? Well, the signs are encouraging, especially as the competition ignores us and grows very large. Mosaic is small, quality, personal - they are the key selling points, plus passionate about what they are doing. It shows from the top and works down. There is a real sense of pride, but it is hard work out there fighting for bookings. Hotels still think clients walk in off the street and ask for their destinations, their hotels and their prices - reality check please. It is dog eat dog - or differentiate, and that is what we are trying to do - differentiation through innovation and inspiration. Here's hoping!
August bank holiday is upon us and what can we say about the month? It rained almost every day. This, you would think, would spur people to book an holiday and seek sunshine abroad. Suddenly, the "staycation" doesn't seem much of a proposition and those singing about how well it is doing, must feel like Edwina Curry. Yet I'm hearing across the industry that sales are lower than expected, and the lates market is not there like usual because there is not much quality availability; prices are dropping. This is there for all to see, though there is thankfully less to sell. The absolute peak summer school holidays have sold well, yet prices for Egypt and Turkey were dropped too early by those afraid to wait. Can't blame them, but when you have demand you need to be able to capitalise and yield it to the maximum. Visited some travel agents this week and none were busy, though there was a gentle air of optimism as the rain continued to soak me every time I left my car. Everyone loves the new Mosaic Holidays (www.mosaicholidays.co.uk) North Cyprus brochure so that is really encouraging, and we are well positioned to take advantage of early bookings for next year to this unspoilt haven. Happy Bank Holiday and here's hoping for a strong September.
Well, another one bites the dust. The demise of Kiss Flights could perhaps have been foreseen, following the standing down of Noel Josephides of Sunvil, the "champion" for Viking / Meridian / Kiss - I'm not sure which it was and who is who, but can there really be no connection? I do not know, but am sad that once again an airline fulfilling a gap in the market has come down all too quickly and peoples' job have vanished overnight. Once more, the power is in the grip of the big two operators / airlines, with Monarch standing on its own as the charter champion, yet with some reluctance towards it in the market, apparently. The latter's aircraft are larger than ideal for mid-haul destinations in the eyes of smaller independent tour operators, and their handling of the volcanic ash crisis upset many. However, they are still around and should be in a stronger position right now. As for Mosaic Holidays, they had only a few clients booked on affected flights and these were protected immediately with clients being, for once, very understanding. Turkey continues to prove popular with families and couple alike - especially around Christmas.
Well, Goldtrail collapses and the same arguments ring around the travel industry. They were selling too cheap, they were selling rubbish, Turkey was supposed to be doing well, etc. But here is another one, they were selling ATOL to ATOL for seat only since December, and agents didn't realise. I wonder if all of them realise what this even means. It is sad to see a company fail and the staff are left in a terrible situation. I'm sure that the industry as a whole will learn little, and there will be another company that unveils itself to fill the gap. Perhaps there could be a minimum selling price of a holiday introduced?
Having just spent our annual holiday at the Sheraton Pine Cliffs Hotel in Portugal's Algarve, I thought I'd share a few thoughts with you. This is undoubtedly the most child and family-friendly resort I have been lucky enough to stay at. My wife selected it exactly for that reason, plus the gym facilities and self-catering option ensured all the boxes were ticked. The green tain that served the resort was a winner with the kids, the pools and facilities were excellent, and the "residences" were lovely. To eat lunch and dinner with the kids on the balcony was truly wonderful. The golf course and driving range on site were both very nice and the children's kingdom was outstanding, with qualified and genuinely lovely staff. I could not manage to connect to the free wi-fi in the hotel reception, as advertised - many people were mentioning the same problem. The only really serious disappointment was the fact that this place was devoid of any recycling facilities, not even so much as a bottle bank. To self-cater, and then have to throw away bottles, tins, plastics and even paper defied belief and made for a guilty conscience. A Sheraton offering none of this in the year 2010, how can this be? Truly appalling in our opinion. Easyjet flight was good though I managed to select the broken seat and was obliged to move away from my family. The return flight with Monarch was excellent and we even returned home early.
Well, nearly finished packing and only taken 3 hours (and the rest). Off to Portugal tomorrow and the builders are movig in here tomorrow. Enough rubbish to fill a skip - and reckon we've packed enough to fill a skip too. My bag weights 14kgs, and the kids weigh the same, twice, and they are only little. Emily is excited to be flying on an orange and white plane, Alex (two years old) wants to know if there is food on board, and I'm wondering how the Iceland situation is and whether I shall be luckier departing the UK this time than I was when fog-bound for Guernsey last week. Wow, need an holiday after this stressful day.......
Having been unable to attend the ill-fated Guernsey BRIGHT road-show due to extended fog delays at Guernsey Airport, I met up with four other BRIGHT members at LGW, and spent a total of nearly 8 hours stuck there. Flybe did their best and we were eventually re-booked for Jersey the following day. We arrived on early lunch time at Jersey and I proceeded to visit as many of the travel agents as I could that were due to attend the evening's training road-show. The temperature climbed during the afternoon all the way to some 84 degrees F and by the time I visited the last agency, British Airways Travel Shop, I was exhausted and very hot. Donna Le Blancq the shop Manager was very pleasant, in spite of the shop being busy, and I'm pleased to say that every agent I visited was charming. The evening was well attended, high quality and the food was excellent. The only disappointment was that one travel agent had too much to drink and did herself and the company she was representing no favours at all. However, it did not dampen "spirits" and I think i managed to hold my own during the first training seesion I have performed since working on bsiness evelopment for Mosaic Holidays (www.mosaicholidays.co.uk). Congratulations to Pat Thompson of Travelmaker who won herself a week's accommodation for 2 people at the Bellapais Monastery Village in North Cyprus on Bed & Breakfast basis. Congratulations also to Simone of Jules Boutin Travel who won a big bottle of Pimms and some Turkish Delight to enjoy with it, courtesy of Mosaic Holidays.
Arrived at Gatwick at 09.00hrs for my flight to Guernsey with Flybe. Got to the check-in desk at Flybe to be greeted by a rather sullen, abrasive gentleman who "advised" me that I could not check in as Guernsey Airport was closed. No mention why, until I asked, and then rather wish I hadn't. The ticket sales / customer services people for Flybe were far more pleasant and were handling disgruntled people explaining that the flights were delayed (and ultimately cancelled) due to fog at the island. However, every fog cloud has a silver lining - this one was the fact that Hisham of Kirker Holidays and Jonathan of Franklyn Hotels were on an earlier flight and whilst they were delayed, they did take off......only to return some 3 hours or so later (I could have been on that flight). I met with Andrea of Veloso Tours who was also due to fly on my aircraft and finally after some 7-8 hours, we were re-booked on a flight to Jersey tomorrow. Unfortunately, the BRIGHT Road-show in Guernsey was cancelled so let's hope we make it to Jersey tomorrow as this is my first trip for Mosaic Holidays and there are some fantastic deals to North Cyprus, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt and I want to tell the world about them - see for yourself at: www.mosaicholidays.co.uk .