Opening a travel agency in the midst of a global pandemic may seem like a brave move, but that’s exactly what Sunny Heart Travel does.
The travel agency, which consists mainly of ex-Thomas Cook employees, will launch on March 1 and the team is ‘very optimistic’ about future success.
Initially trading started in October last year, but the launch date was pushed back as the second national lockdown was enforced.
However, the company is now eager to be positive with Steve Bentzen, CEO, that the team can make it a success.
The company is optimistic about their launch and has been working on it for months
Sunny Heart Travel is based in Peterborough, where Thomas Cook was headquartered. It even has a ‘sunny heart’ logo associated with the former brand, which collapsed in September 2019.
This is Money, which initially reported on the company’s launch in September, when it planned to start trading in October.
Although this was postponed, the team of nine employees is now ready to sell vacations, despite Britain currently being stuck and only essential travel allowed.
Steve said, “We are very optimistic about our launch. Our operating costs are low, our website is state of the art, we have a great team ready to get started and a new booking engine ready to try.
“In some ways, it’s a great time to launch, there’s a huge pent-up demand for vacations and if government restrictions are relaxed it will be a great venture to be in.”
The team hopes that, with so many looking to make up for lost time, and the now-announced roadmap from lockdown, travelers will be eager to make advanced plans.
However, those arriving in the UK from abroad will currently have to be quarantined for 10 days, while those from ‘red list’ countries will have to pay £ 1,750 to spend those 10 days in quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel.
Doesn’t this make Steve nervous?
“Who knows what’s going to happen, but we know that if we don’t dip our toe in water once, we never will.”
Launch: Steve Bentzen, pictured, is the boss of the newly formed Sunny Heart Travel group
He said the company is fully prepared for the event of cancellation and that all customers will receive a full 14-day refund in the event of a forced cancellation.
All booking payments are also held in custody to provide what Steve describes as ‘complete security’ for his clients.
Customers worried about their vacation being canceled or rebooked are protected to ensure they can book without worry.
Steve said, “Our suppliers are working hard on the ground to promote a stamp of peace of mind and demonstrate that their hotels and transportation services have been thoroughly sanitized, ready for new customers.
‘We are a member of PTS, which means that the client’s money is held in trust, giving the client confidence that their money can only be used for their specific booking and is protected by ATOL regulations.’
Sunny Heart expects bookings for the end of 2021 and summer 2022, when it begins trading with the company’s contractors who are now negotiating early booking rates to share with their customers.
A large number of destinations will be available to customers with a global portfolio available by phone through the company’s sales team.
It has also kept its website cache search for the more popular, beloved short destinations, with a few tropical long haul thrown in.
The initial search is so comprehensive that when using supplier live feeds, the search takes more than 10 seconds. Using cached data will reduce traffic over the Internet and thus much faster.
It gives near-instant search results, so no one is patiently put to the test when booking.
Launch: The Sunny Heart website will be launched on March 1 after months of work and planning
Steve said: ‘We hope to make our mark on Spain, Turkey and Egypt thanks to some absolutely fantastic offers that we can’t wait to share. We have selected a range of very beautiful hotels with exceptional health and safety standards. ‘
However, for many people, traveling abroad will be the last thing on their mind, even if the restrictions are lifted.
That is why Sunny Heart also offers staycations that are promoted through social media, her blog and her website.
All holidays can be booked through the sales team.
The team is currently all still working remotely due to the national lockdown, but is headquartered in Peterborough.
Steve said, “We have hired ex-store staff as homeworkers, and while we don’t run stores, the skill is the same and we believe the professionalism and dedication of the sales staff will be visible to customers.”
While it may take a few months for travel abroad to be allowed again, when that time comes, there will certainly be thousands of vacationers ready to fly away – and this is what Sunny Heart relies on.
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