US government announces vaccine mandate dropped from 11th May

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.”

Ocean Holidays Group Celebrates 20th Anniversary With Prizes and Rebrand

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.”

Four Lessons I Would Have Taught My 18-Year Old Self

As the son of two self-employed playwrights, our Co-founder and Co-CEO Harry Hastings has always had the self-belief and creative vision required to persevere. However, as we approach our 20th anniversary, Harry discusses four lessons he would have taught his younger self sooner in the final story of our Founder Series.

At the tender age of 18, I didn’t know a lot about the world – and certainly didn’t know much about running a business. But that’s the age I was when I first caught the travel bug and realised I wanted to build a career around making travel the best it can be for as many people as possible. Almost 20 years on, I’ve learned some valuable lessons – here are four that I would’ve told my 18 year old self.

Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement

It was 2012, the year of the London Olympics and Oceans Holidays was on a gold medal winning streak doing £30m of bookings a year. We’d brought in a business partner – someone with experience who we entrusted with our financial affairs and who we believed wanted to join us in growing the company. But all was not as it seemed. One day, it came to light that some supplier payments had been missed and our business partner hadn’t turned up to work nor answered his phone. A handful of us worked through the night to unpick what had happened and realised this was the tip of the iceberg. All in our twenties, us four founders realised we were staring down the barrel of a £1.8m black hole, with our business partner nowhere to be seen. Despite advice from a trusted advisor to walk away, we owed it to our 85 employees to persevere. With fire in our belly and sheer determination to survive, we worked round the clock for a week to write a five year business plan which satisfied those we needed the support of and ultimately led to our survival. Learning this valuable lesson the hard way made us tough and instilled in us all an unwavering commitment to being rigorous in the detail, laser focused on our numbers and ferocious in our governance.

As founders we work for the company and the people in it, not the other way round

To some, it might seem counter-intuitive to say that as founders we work for our staff and not that they work for us. But it’s a philosophy that has stood us in good stead and has led to us weathering the storms that have rocked the travel industry over almost 20 years. During the pandemic, when others closed their customer service lines and put staff on furlough, our staff got on the phones and reassured customers that we’d safeguard their holidays and ride out the storm together. In 2021 right in the midst of the turmoil, our staff’s commitment to helping Ocean Holidays customers navigate the chaos helped us almost double the size of our business from £40m to £77m between January to December of that year. And what’s more, we managed to do that and retain 85% of our staff. Today, we face new challenges: rising energy prices, a cost of living crisis and a looming recession. Our number one priority remains making sure our staff are comfortable. It’s them first, and selling holidays second. Which is why we’re investing in our staff now more than ever before. We’ve introduced a profit share scheme, pay rises and we have opted to be a real Living Wage provider, which we’ve back paid to January 2021. As we near the 20th anniversary of Ocean Holidays, I couldn’t be prouder that we’re on course to being rated a world class employer by the Best Companies engagement survey – although I do sometimes wonder if I’d have hired 18 year old Harry Hastings.

A band of brothers will build a brilliant business

The Ox brothers and the Hastings brothers come from very different backgrounds. Their Dad was a Romford market trader. Our parents were both playwrights. Yet we all shared a passion for travel and all had the self-belief instilled in us by our self-employed parents that we could one day run our own business. Daniel Ox ran the tuck shop at school – that was his early, sticky-fingered education on supply and demand. South of the Thames in Brixton, I was a keen ice hockey player. The game teaches you resilience, teamwork and as the greatest player of all time Wayne Gretzky famously said ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’ – a philosophy that has always resonated with me. The Hastings and Ox brothers have long since hung up the skates and closed the tuck shop – and we’ve all found our cornerstones within the business. I look after our people and business planning along with our profit and loss with our Finance Director. George is responsible for our flights and relationships with our airline partners, Dan looks after the innovation and technology part of the business, and David – one of the UK’s top travel managers for high-net-worth’s and SME’s – is responsible for our personalised travel management business, Winged Boots.

Doing the right thing is best for business and the world we live in

The pandemic was a strange time, and the entire travel sector was nervous. In the midst of the turmoil, our colleagues’ commitment to helping our customers navigate the chaos helped us to become the UK’s fastest growing travel company according to ATOL reports. I have learnt that doing the right thing, looking after your employees, your community and the world around you, as well as being truly inclusive is good for business. As an 18-year-old founder in my early years, I would have passed off such altruism as a distraction from growing the business – believing these were qualities only highly funded big brands could afford to indulge. As it turns out, thinking beyond short-term revenue goals and focusing instead on doing the right thing for the wider world we live in pays off.

How Ocean Holidays Harnesses Technology to Enhance Human Connection

In the third of our Founders Series, Daniel Ox, Managing Director of Ocean Holidays, discusses how the latest technology has always been integral to our innovation and how emerging AI can be a tool for improving human interaction instead of a threat.

How Last Year’s Travel Chaos Can Create a Better Holiday Industry

In the second of our Founders Series, George Hastings, Managing Director of Ocean Holidays, discusses how we can learn from last year’s travel chaos to create a better holiday industry.

There’s no denying it has been a difficult couple of years for the travel industry. As travel restrictions began to ease post-pandemic, the industry faced a new set of challenges, from staff shortages to flight cancellations.

And yet the travel industry remains incredibly resilient. At Ocean Holidays, our sales were up 50% compared to January 2020, showing the green shoots that we have all been waiting for. As winter starts to draw to a close and families look ahead to planning well-deserved summer holidays, here are a few things I’ve learnt that will stand any travel business in good stead to overcome hurdles and work together to support customers as we move forward towards a brighter future.

Open and honest dialogue is key

I had my own experience of last year’s ‘travel chaos’ when I was caught up in a major outage issue on my return from Geneva. As a result, my flight and luggage were delayed turning what should have been a 1hr 30-minute flight into 15 hours from door to door. Unfortunately, my story wasn’t unique.

At Ocean Holidays we pride ourselves on putting humans in touch with humans. And this includes our suppliers and partners.

For example, being in regular communication with airlines last summer allowed us to stay one step ahead of any flight disruptions and let our customers know to book them onto other flights. Doing this kept the stress out of booking holidays for our customers and reduced complaints directly going to airlines.

As we look ahead to this summer, we’ll be continuing to have open and honest conversations with both customers and suppliers alike. Issues will arise, but we know it’s how we handle these situations with our customers that will determine if we’re successful or not.

The right deal is important, but so is a robust guarantee

Last year’s uncertainty cemented the need for a strong guarantee in the minds of consumers. Whilst price is important, consumers are also looking for reassurance from travel companies that they can support them should things go wrong.

As customers navigate the current cost of living crisis, holidays, more so than ever before, are considered purchases. Offering reassurance and guarantees on holidays will be key to encouraging consumers to part with their cash.

Be agile to respond to changing consumer needs

It’s no surprise that the way consumers book holidays has changed over the past year, so it’s vital that travel companies remain agile and respond to evolving consumer demand.

For example, we have seen a shift in when people book their holidays with the vast majority of travellers now booking seven months in advance, compared to nine months to a year that we saw before. As a result, we need to ensure we are constantly refining our deals and services to cater to this.

During the last few years, we have also seen major airline partners change their routes to accommodate those visiting friends and family abroad, however, we are reaching capacity in market growth for this type of travel as consumers return to traditional leisure destinations.

Three Trends the Luxury Travel Industry Should Keep Front of Mind to Prepare for Success

In the first of our Founders Series, David Ox, Managing Director of luxury holiday company Winged Boots, discusses three trends of the travel industry you should keep in mind for success…

There’s no escaping the fact that the world is in a cost-of-living crisis, as challenging headwinds continue to affect many industries. The luxury travel sector has so far proven itself to be resilient; we’ve seen steady demand, but it’s important to be prepared for what comes next, especially after the unexpected events of the last few years.

With this in mind, it is more important than ever to understand and get ahead of the trends influencing the luxury travel market and consumers. Doing so will stand any luxury business in good stead to ride out potential challenges. Here are my predictions for three luxury travel trends businesses should be mindful of, to prepare for success over the Easter and summer months.

1) Accepting there will be unexpected changes and having the capacity to pivot quickly will be key:

There have been a number of hurdles for the travel industry, whether that be the travel chaos we saw last summer, climate disasters impacting holiday destinations or the cost-of-living crisis, just to name a few. It would be unrealistic to think it will be entirely smooth sailing – travel, and the luxury sector in particular, is an exciting industry to be in and unexpected challenges certainly keep you on your toes. But the key to being able to successfully navigate these hurdles is the ability to pivot quickly as a business. For example, the travel chaos we saw during the summer months last year led to an increased demand for long-haul travel.

At Winged Boots, we spotted this trend early and pivoted our portfolio quickly in order to meet this growing demand. As airports struggled with resources and capacity, we provided complimentary Fast Track to all Winged Boots clients for both existing and new bookings to ensure their holiday remained as seamless as possible. Similarly, following the pandemic, we spotted an increased desire for privacy and adapted our offering to meet this need. It is through accepting there will be changes and being able to pivot that luxury businesses will be able to weather the cost-of-living crisis.

2) The demand for wellness and mindfulness holidays will increase:

With the growing demands of everyday life and increased focus on mental health, holidaymakers increasingly want to switch off whilst abroad. This couldn’t be more relevant for the luxury travel sector, and this is a trend we will see continue to grow. Luxury clients will be increasingly interested in mindful holidays, whether that be yoga breaks or silent retreats and luxury travel businesses should look at how they can adapt their offerings to meet this growing demand.

3) The rise of the personal travel manager:

Taking a personal approach and maintaining trust with clients has always been critical in the luxury travel sector. At Winged Boots, we grew thanks to word of mouth and recommendations, and it is that bespoke, personal approach that helped maintain the business’ success. But with the constant challenges the industry and consumers have faced, the one-to-one approach with clients that personal travel managers provide is more important now than ever before and will continue to be. Luxury travel businesses need to be all the more conscious to take a bespoke, personal approach to each and every booking.

Ocean Holidays Win Big at The Travel Weekly Annual Globe Awards

We are honoured to be the inaugural winners of ‘Employer of the Year’ at the Travel Weekly UK Globe Awards. This award is particularly special as this is our very first Globe Award.

When choosing Ocean Holidays as the winner of the award, Travel Weekly said, “The winner’s submission particularly impressed with an authentic approach to people, sustainability, D.E.I., and community. Judges felt this approach was underpinned by a strong commitment to honest and transparent communication which allowed staff at all levels to feel involved. They were also impressed by the way the company’s values flowed through to every decision taken, with an ongoing drive to ensure all employees were engaged and constantly encouraged and supported to do… and be… their best. And they commended the engagement of senior management, with a specialist team member driving company culture and working impressively with the chief executive to implement its strategy. Finally, the judges were impressed by our winners’ commitment to fair wages, with plans to increase starting salaries from next year to better attract and support staff.

Our Co-Founders Daniel Ox and George Hastings were on hand to pick up the award, where George said “It’s such a surprise to have won and this the first Globe Award we’ve received so it’s exciting. We have done a lot of work in the last two years finding out what our staff want and need and then worked to implement all of that so to have that recognised is amazing. He went on to say, “This award will be front and centre at our town hall next week and the staff is going to be buzzing – at the end of the day, this award is all about them.”

When told about the award, Ross Swallow, Trade Sales Consultant said, “It may have only been 6 months since I’ve been with the company, but it really makes me proud to see Ocean Holidays winning this especially as I wholeheartedly agree with it!”

This prestigious award would not have been received without Ocean Holidays’ Head of People, Karen Sheehan, who has played a crucial role in implementing several new initiatives to improve the lives of our colleagues in both the workplace and personally.

Co-Founder & Co-CEO Harry Hastings said, “I couldn’t be prouder of Karen Sheehan and the entire team at Ocean Holidays for winning the special award for Employer of the Year by Travel Weekly UK Globe Awards last night. We know we have so much more work to do to continue to improve the lives of our colleagues at Ocean Holidays.”

Our employees have always been at the heart of everything we do, and we attribute our success as the UK’s fastest-growing travel company in the last two years to this people-first approach. Whatever the future holds, it’s vital to us that we continue to listen and act on what our employees need to make them not only productive but happy too.

Redefining All Inclusive: How We’re Helping Disabled People Plan Stress Free Holidays

• 51% of respondents with a disability said going on holiday was associated with stress, whilst 36% related it with frustration

• Negative experiences when booking or going on holiday have impacted 65% of disabled people’s attitudes towards travelling

• Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed have submitted an accessibility-related complaint, but for a fifth (21%) nothing was done about it

New research by Ocean Holidays has revealed the stress and uncertainty disabled people face when planning a holiday.

Over half (51%) of people with disabilities find holidays stressful and a third (36%) find them frustrating to plan and book. These negative experiences have impacted 65% of disabled people’s attitudes toward travelling, with 1 in 10 going as far as avoiding leisure travel, due to not being confident that their additional needs could be met.

The data highlights that the holiday stress for disabled people begins before they even depart, with nine in 10 (90%) experiencing problems when booking a trip. Difficulties during the booking process often include finding affordable and suitable accommodation (32%), lack of information on websites about support available (31%), staff’s lack of knowledge (26%) and hidden fees (25%).

The lack of help or facilities at the airport (33%), and simply getting to the airport in the first place (22%) were among the concerns disabled people felt towards travelling. Over 8 in 10 (81%) of disabled people stated they have experienced difficulties while travelling on holiday.

Almost half (49%) of all disabled people surveyed stated that they had made a complaint relating to accessibility whilst on holiday. For more than two in five (43%), nothing was actioned as a result of the complaint they raised.

As the UK’s fastest-growing travel company and Europe’s leading Florida holiday expert, we undertook the research needed to shed light on the issue. We also became a registered member of the global Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network and we have recently announced our new Accessibility Programme. Launched after twelve months of thorough research and development, the programme offers a service and resource hub dedicated to making holidays accessible for all, no matter the disability.

Following investment in rigorous staff training, customers can now book holidays knowing that every additional need is taken care of – whether at the airport or in resort – by staff with an unrivalled knowledge of accessible options in the Sunshine State, all at no extra cost. The programme takes a holistic approach, covering everything from mobility, visual and hearing impairment through to cognitive challenges with accessibility champions in all areas of the business.

The new Accessibility programme on our website is also designed to be a resource for disabled travellers and their families, with information on everything from accessible restaurants to wheelchair-friendly sightseeing options while abroad.

“These findings underline the opportunity the travel industry has to make travel a better experience for the one in five individuals with disabilities in the UK,” said Harry Hastings, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Ocean Holidays whose son Rudy has a rare genetic condition called MCAHS1.

“It’s great to see niche holiday operators serving the needs of so many but we also believe that it’s time that more mainstream travel companies step up with a more inclusive approach to supporting people with disabilities, and their families. As an industry, we have so much to do to vastly improve the holiday experience for people with disabilities. At Ocean Holidays, we are at the start of this journey, and we’ve taken steps to improve the experience across the board. We promise to do our best to provide people with disabilities the support they need to enjoy their dream holiday.”

Paul White, CEO, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower said “We are delighted that Ocean Holidays has become a member of the global Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network to ensure that travelling abroad is accessible for all. The launch of Ocean Holidays’ accessibility programme demonstrates how businesses are starting to take disabilities seriously by reviewing their current offerings and practices. As the findings in this research show there is still further to go for the wider travel industry to become fully inclusive for people with disabilities, but this is a positive step in the right direction.”

Research conducted in partnership with Opinion Matters
1,007 people who have a disability were surveyed – 02.09.2022-06.09.2022

How We Made It: Our world fell apart, but now we’re flying high again

We’re proud to share this Sunday Times article, featuring our very own Co-CEOs and co-founders, about the trials and triumphs of Ocean Holidays.

The last Friday of October 2012 is forever etched in the memories of Harry Hastings and Daniel Ox, co chief executives of Essex-based Ocean Holidays. That’s not only because it was Ox’s son’s first birthday; it was also the day they discovered that the travel firm they had built up from scratch over the previous eight years was at risk of imminent collapse.

“We got the call that Friday to say the business had run out of cash,” said Hastings, now 39. “We spent the next 72 hours trying to figure out what on earth had happened. We discovered a hole of about £1.8 million in the end.”

It was a do-or-die moment, every entrepreneur’s worst nightmare. The four founders – Hastings and his brother George and Ox and his brother David – decided to try and save their floundering firm. With an emergency, insurance-backed loan from industry bonding body the Travel Trust Association, Ocean Holidays was able to continue trading while the two pairs of brothers feverishly worked on the rescue effort.

“We had seven days to write a business plan to show we could get out of where we were — to cut costs, sell assets, rebuild the business and pay off that special arrangement over a number of years,” says Ox, now 42. “Harry and I had a few very late nights doing that.”

The grim news didn’t quite come out of a clear blue sky — at the time, the firm’s finances were managed by an experienced older shareholder (who subsequently left the business) and the brothers had been concerned over a lack of financial information for a while. But the discovery of the extent of the cash shortfall was a huge shock. “We were very young when we started the business and none of us had really had proper jobs before that,” said Hastings. “Dan and I were university drop-outs. We were completely and utterly self-taught. We thought we were doing well — we didn’t know any better.”

In the end, 28 staff out of a total at the time of 85 had to be made redundant, and one of the company’s crown jewels — a successful online booking platform for travel agents called Beatthebrochure, which Ox had built himself — was hastily sold to a competitor to liberate some cash.

“It was so painful. We were in total chaos for about 12 weeks,” said Hastings. But it bought the founders time to get back on an even keel — and to realise the potential of a restructured Ocean Holidays based on two key markets. One was mid to long-haul holidays to destinations such as Florida and Dubai, and the other a bespoke travel agent, called Winged Boots, aimed at high-net-worth individuals.

“People ask why we didn’t just pack it in and start again,” said Hastings. “We had invested eight years in the business. We had thousands of customers who trusted our brands, and an incredible team working with us. Once we had built the business plan, we could see there was a tremendous opportunity right there, and we were really, really hungry for it.”

Another crisis hit in March 2020, of course, but one that was industry-wide rather than specific to Ocean Holidays – the pandemic. The company made a pre-tax loss in 2020 of £1.25 million as the world went into lockdown and travel ground to a halt. It did keep its call centres open, however, talking customers through their options and resulting in 85 per cent of them rebooking rather than claiming a refund.

After a couple of weeks, Ocean also bucked the trend by turning its online advertising back on and looking for business. “In April 2020, we started to sell holidays for beyond Easter 2021 up to 2024,” said Hastings. Few other companies were doing so, resulting in a flock of locked-down customers easing their frustrated wanderlust by booking a holiday a year or two hence. “In 2020, we ended up selling £40 million worth of holidays,” he adds.

Fast forward and the company is going strong. Ocean Holidays said its revenues were £78 million last year, when it was named the fastest-growing travel business in the UK by ATOL, the holiday protection scheme. It now has 200 staff and claims to be on track to generate revenues of almost £100 million this year, with earnings before debt interest, tax and non-cash items of “between £6 million and £7 million”, said Hastings.

The business has its roots in the 1990s, when the Ox brothers set up a business selling holidays to Dubai on Teletext, the TV-based forerunner of the internet whose pages looked like they had been drawn with Lego bricks. Daniel Ox was 19 at the time, enjoying life as a sometime DJ in Spain but not really going anywhere career-wise. “I had just dropped out of university and was messing around,” he said. “My dad was a bit of an entrepreneur — the family had fruit and veg stalls on Romford market for generations — and he said to me and my brother, ‘Why not start a travel company?’ ”

So with £30,000 from their parents, the pair set off, selling holidays to Dubai. When they decided to start doing US packages as well, they met the Hastings boys — then sales agents for a Florida villa specialist — and went into business together. “Somehow, my brother and I cobbled together 20 grand,” said Harry Hastings. “They sold the holidays and we processed the bookings, and we all got a cut.”

How does a company run by not one but two pairs of brothers manage to avoid a double dose of family squabbling in the boardroom? Each of the four owns an equal 25 per cent stake, and the business is structured so that they don’t tread on each other’s toes, Hastings explains. “We all have our own, very well-defined areas of responsibility. David is managing director of Winged Boots and George is managing director of [subsidiary company] Ocean Flights – on long-haul holidays, the vast majority of the cost is the flights. I’m the co-CEO who works closest with the finance director and head of people on product and commercial stuff, while Dan is the co-CEO of technology, operations, process and strategy.”

Now a few years older and hopefully wiser than back in 2012, when the money almost ran out, what tips would the founders give to others about to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey? “For me, I’d say double down on your strengths and accept your weaknesses,” said Ox. “Things move faster if you quickly accept what you can and can’t do.”

“Try to think long-term, even in a crisis,” added Hastings. “Making decisions based on fear is a really bad idea. One thing we discovered is that, when the thing you are most scared of happens, it can actually end up being the best thing for you. So be optimistic, but with rigour.”

Long Haul Holidays Set for Boom as Short Haul Continues to Suffer Further Disruption

As Europe’s largest Florida travel specialist, and the UK’s fastest-growing travel business*, we are seeing demand for long-haul holidays skyrocket as consumers seek better value holidays with less risk of disruption:

· Further cancellations and disruption to short-haul forecast while long-haul flights continue to be prioritised by airports and airlines

· Carriers are looking to the horizon by investing in capacity and offering great value 2023 prices to destinations like Florida and New York

· Ocean Holidays on track for record-breaking summer with +170% growth vs 2019

Our US holiday bookings increased 25% following the lifting in June of pre-departure Covid test to the US as travellers took advantage of restriction-free travel, with the company experiencing growth of 170% for departures between 1 May and 31 October 2022 compared with the same period in 2019. That demand looks set to soar requirements as holidaymakers seek better value and greater reliability.

Customers eager to take trips this summer have been plagued by disruption as cancelled flights to Europe play havoc with travel plans which led the UK Government to intervene in an attempt to try and prevent further disruption. With airports and airlines continuing to struggle with recruitment, short-haul flights will continue to be the first flights to be cancelled or changed, predicts Ocean Holidays’ Managing Director, George Hastings, making long-haul not only a safer bet but better value too:

“Airlines are rightly recognising that their salvation lies in long-haul, which is where they are investing. We’re seeing the likes of BA and Virgin upgrading their fleet and unlocking significantly more capacity and better value flights to popular long-haul destinations like Florida and New York.”

“When faced with disruption, airlines will tend to prioritise long haul flights, meaning they are less susceptible to cancellation – less than 2% of our transatlantic bookings were cancelled in 2022. When you factor in the better value offered to many long-haul destinations, it’s a no brainer. Consumers are starting to realise that great value, hassle-free holidays lie beyond Europe. Our phone lines have never been busier.”

Long haul Florida holidays set for boom as short haul continues to suffer further disruption

This year, British Airways increased its capacity to Orlando by 50% and reduced its seat prices while United Airlines has increased its capacity by 40% between London and Newark – and have added capacity to their Premium Economy and Business Class products.

Ocean Holidays, with a stable that includes US specialist Ocean Florida and luxury travel management company Winged Boots, is also seeing a trend towards more luxury travel experiences, with consumers looking to spend more on the holidays they do go on. UK travellers spent £1,500 more this Easter than in 2019 and Winged Boots has experienced six record months in a row for luxury travel bookings.

Fortunately, Ocean Holidays is one of the rare travel success stories of the pandemic, as we retained 85% of our bookings and in 2020 took £40m of new bookings, resulting in the business doubling in size.

Our Essex-based company, which serves the whole of the UK, is set for a record-breaking summer with group revenue up from £22.4mil to £60.1m for departures between 1 May and 31 October compared with the same period in 2019 (representing +170% growth).

“Despite the cost-of-living crisis, we’re seeing holidaymakers continuing to prioritise their trips abroad. More than ever, customers are gravitating toward better value, more reliable flights” said Harry Hastings, co-CEO, Ocean Holidays, and brother to George.

“We’re seeing record-breaking demand for family holidays to Florida and as a result, we’re expanding our villa portfolio in Florida by over 150% by the end of 2022. The airlines are offering fantastic deals for 2023 and I’d encourage people to jump on those opportunities now and lock in their holidays for next year.”

Ocean Florida is currently offering 7 Nights Disney Area Executive Villa in Kissimmee from £629pp with flights, villa, ATOL and TTA Protection included as well as dedicated 24/7 Florida-based support teams.