Q&A with Riviera Travel
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New holiday enhancements and destinations for river
cruise passengers are among the initiatives being introduced by Riviera Travel.
As life during lockdown continues for the time being, Jeannine Williamson
chatted to Will
Sarson, Head of Specialist Product at the Silver Travel Advisor partner company
which provides river cruises and
escorted European and worldwide tours.
How has Riviera Travel been working with customers in recent months?
Like many, Riviera Travel has transitioned to working
from home really quickly thanks to some great work from our IT team. We
have many different teams working non-stop to help our customers. Our
contact centre team has been helping people with affected holidays and our product
teams have been working on making our range of 2021 holidays available earlier
than ever before to give our customers maximum choice. In operations, we made
sure all of our customers returned home safely once the lockdowns were
announced, including chartering a whole aircraft in one instance. Since
then we have been liaising with various official bodies to begin planning any
adjustments that may be required for when we are able to resume our holidays. Our
marketing team has been keeping in touch with our customers in many ways,
including our Riviera Together social media programme of quizzes, puzzles,
articles and general travel inspiration.
Are customers keen to travel again?
Our customers really do love to travel and although
they understand the situation we find ourselves in, I think it’s fair to say
that are chomping at the bit to start seeing the world again. I am pleased that
the majority of our customers are choosing to reschedule their holidays, later in
2020 or 2021, or
opting for a refund credit note whilst they decide on their future plans.
What have you been doing during lockdown?
I am still working hard all day at the moment. As my
role is mostly about planning for the future, I am being kept as busy as ever! The
big difference for me is that I am working from home, which means I save
commuting two to three hours a day. I am using that time to make sure I am
keeping fit with various online workouts as well as walking a lot too. One of
the big positives for me is discovering so many little parts of the area I live
in that I never knew existed. I've also been trying to put time into creative
endeavours like writing and recording music, although I'm not sure how
appreciative my neighbours are about the latter!
What about the rest of your team?
They are also working from home and we keep in touch via
video calls. It is always nice to see your colleagues on your screen and our
CEO Phil Hullah also keeps everyone in the
loop with regular updates so we all know how things are progressing.
What are your predictions for the future of travel?
As you may expect, I am a keen traveller myself and
have unfortunately had to postpone a number of trips. However, I use the
word postpone, not cancel, and intend to do the exact same holidays, just later
on. I accept that in the short term there may be some slightly more unusual
aspects to travel, but we will adapt as necessary. If Covid-19 has reminded me
of one thing, it is that travel is one of life’s ultimate privileges and, if
anything, I hope to do even more in the future. In fact, I have already
booked a couple of extra holidays for myself for this year because I can't wait
to start travelling again. We recently undertook some research and our customers said
exactly the same thing.
Which destinations do you predict will be the most popular when travel resumes?
I think a lot of savvy travellers will head to places
such as Venice and Dubrovnik that were, until recently, tourism hot spots. There
is definitely a sense that going to those destinations in the next year or
two will provide a very different experience with fewer people around. The
great outdoors will also be another prominent theme going forward; wide open
spaces and a connection with nature will be a big draw. Finally, I expect
many people to return to tried and tested favourite destinations as a way of
getting back into the travelling swing of things.
accept that in the short term there may be some slightly more unusual aspects
to travel, but we will adapt as necessary. We have
been working incredibly hard to make sure we are able to give our guests the
cruises and tours they know and love with the minimum disruption. We will do
all of the hard work behind the scenes so our customers can fully enjoy their
What can future guests look forward to?
One of the main innovations we have for our river
cruise guests in 2021 is the launch of Riviera Plus. This is a fantastic
set of enhancements for those booking upper deck cabins, including a portable Wi-Fi
hotpot, in-cabin sparkling wine, nightly aperitif and more. We are also
excited to launch a new itinerary, Amsterdam, Cologne and the Best of Holland
& Flanders, giving our guests a year-round opportunity to sail along the
Dutch waterways. On our escorted tours, we will be offering smaller group
versions of our holidays for those who prefer a bit more space - more news on
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I say the same thing to anyone who asks me about
travel - friends, family, customers – don’t miss out on the world. Trust
travel companies and tourism authorities to do the right thing on your behalf
and be willing to adapt where is necessary. We will be seeing the sights,
smelling the scents and tasting the flavours of the world again very soon!
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Riviera Travel.
23 people found this feature helpful