Harry Hastings Co-CEO and Co-Founder, Ocean Florida said “We are thrilled that the vaccine mandate for all UK travellers to the USA is being dropped from 11 May 2023. As the UK’s largest independent operator to Florida, we’ve witnessed 20% of our cancellations since borders opened attributed to members of the travelling party being unvaccinated. The continued vaccination requirement has led to widespread confusion with 10% of our bookings being terminated at the final confirmation stage due to a lack of clarity of the entry restrictions.” He continued “The USA is one of the last countries to drop the vaccination requirement. The lifting of these final restrictions is an extremely welcome move and marks a great day in what has been a turbulent few years for the travel industry.”
A year of celebrations planned including giveaways, competitions and fresh new branding
A year of celebrations, giveaways, competitions, trade-facing incentives and a brand refresh are all on the horizon for Ocean Holidays Group, the UK’s fastest growing travel company post-pandemic according to ATOL statistics, as it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Speaking at an exclusive event at the US Embassy in London to kick off the celebrations, Harry Hastings Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Ocean Holidays said: “For the last 20 years, we have prided ourselves on being a people-first organisation. Without the support of our staff, customers and business partners we wouldn’t be where we are today. This is a great moment to reflect on where we have come from and where we are going – and, of course, take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been a part of the journey.”
The 20th anniversary celebrations will continue into next year, with chances for agents to win places on fam trips, and monthly prizes and incentives, as well as working with local community charity partners.
The rebrand, which primarily involves the Group’s Ocean brands – Ocean Florida, the largest direct-to-consumer Florida specialist in Europe; and Ocean Beds, the largest global provider of Florida holiday homes to the travel trade – is central to the celebratory activity for this milestone year. The Group also includes Winged Boots, a leader in personalised holidays.
At the heart of the brand refresh is Ocean Holidays’ mission ‘to make holidays the best they can be, every step of the way’ highlighting the group’s ethos. As the inaugural winner of Employer of the Year, the rebrand which launched internally earlier this year, introduces three new values to the business – Do the right thing; Strive to be the best; and Make it happen – imprinted through the entire business.
Hastings commented: “Whether you are an employee, partner or customer, your travel experience with us is personal. We understand that holiday purchases, now more so than ever, are a significant purchase, which is why we treat every holiday like it was our own.
“Each of our brands has the technology, ambition and commitment to do the right thing for our people and customers.”
Looking ahead, Hastings confirmed the group is looking to expand its destination portfolio, across the USA, and potentially to other worldwide destinations in time.
Hastings continued “Since we launched our trade programme in July 2020, we have focussed on delivering unrivalled service, value and flexibility to our trade partners and have seen huge growth in sales for Florida and the wider USA.”
Romford, 02 February 2023: Ocean Holidays has confirmed a record-breaking January with sales up more than 50% compared to 2020, the last peaks experienced prior to the pandemic.
Ocean Holidays group, the long-haul and luxury specialists, also reported that 20% of their January revenue came from trade distribution compared to 10% pre-pandemic.
Harry Hastings, Co-Founder, and Co-CEO, of Ocean Holidays, said: “It’s incredible after such a turbulent few years to finally see, not only a return to normal, but a bumper peaks. This January has been a jolt of confidence the industry needed after so much uncertainty.” He continued “We are so grateful for the support from our relatively new trade partnerships of which we are so fortunate to be enjoying mutual success together.”
Following feedback from several listening groups with key trade partners, Ocean Holidays has adapted their trade programme to provide agents with best-in-market working practices and incentives to help them increase sales as we enter 2023. New initiatives include a market-leading incentive to earn up to £600 per booking and quick response times to all calls, with the operator reporting over 95% of calls from travel agents were answered in under 30 seconds.
Hastings said, “As the largest independent specialist to Florida, we pride ourselves on our service levels and we are extremely proud that despite experiencing the largest ever volume of calls in our 20-year history we managed to answer over 95% of calls from travel agents in under 30 seconds.”
As Ocean Holidays looks to expand its destination portfolio, the operator reported almost half of bookings in the last month included destinations outside of Florida, including the wider USA, as well as growth from Winged Boots to luxury hotspots such as UAE and Indian Ocean.
This bumper January follows a fantastic start to the year as the operator was recently awarded the prestigious accolade of Employer of the Year at the Travel Weekly Globe Awards.
On the award, Hastings said, “Our people are at the heart of everything we do and we believe that is reflected in our exceptional service levels we are able to offer both the trade and customers alike.” He continued “As a business, we are constantly listening to our staff so that we can continue to evolve with them and make this a place where all employees can thrive.”
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