Trade must ‘educate and calm’ clients worried about airport disruption

The industry needs to educate and calm clients worried about airport disruption but not ‘sugarcoat’ the situation, according to Holidaysplease boss Charles Duncombe.

The homeworking and holiday franchise firm, which has around 190 agents, staff and franchisees, said it was getting regular calls from clients asking if their flights would go ahead but said it was less affected than other firms due to its focus on long haul sales.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast ahead of British Airways’ announcement it will cut a further 650 flights from Heathrow and Gatwick in July and news of aircraft refuelling staff going on strike, Duncombe said: “I don’t think we’ve had it as bad as others.

“It seems that if airlines are going to cancel a flight, it’s much easier to do it if it’s a domestic flight or a very short haul, where there’s likely to be another flight later that day to put customers on and move things around.

“Obviously there’s rumblings of big strikes so we do get a lot of customers saying ‘is it going to be okay’ and the advice we give is, let’s stick to what the airlines are saying.

“You don’t necessarily want to panic customers and say go to the airport too early because if everyone does that then you then have even longer queues.”

Duncombe called on the industry to “calm things down a little” by giving ‘sensible advice’ and put the issue into perspective when talking to clients.

He said: “It’s not like a run on the bank or a run on the petrol station, [when] you’ve got to stock up, like the toilet rolls at the beginning of Covid.

“I think as an industry we need to get we need to help educate customers and say it ‘as it is’, not sugarcoat it, but give sensible advice and maybe take some of the panic out of it.”

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