The boss of Jet2holidays has called on agents to pass on customers’ emergency mobile numbers so that the operator can give “real-time information” to customers.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast before the government’s decision to remove Spain from its ‘safe list’ and updates to FCO advice, chief executive Steve Heapy said extra health and safety protocols and restrictions in resorts meant the operator was finding it harder to communicate important information to customers.
He said: “We have a bit of an issue sometimes giving information to customers that are out in resort. That’s sometimes difficult because we don’t always get the emergency contact mobile phone number for the customers.
“We’ve had a few challenges around transfers. Some hotels don’t want either notice boards or our information books in the hotels at the moment because people touch notice boards and people thumb through information books.
“That traditionally has been the primary mechanism for informing customers about transfer times. So if we don’t have that, we’ve then go to ask the hotel to put letters under people’s doors, but then you’re reliant on the hotel doing it. Or we could do that, but if we do that, then we haven’t got our Customer Service helpers helping customers with genuine queries, we’ve got them being postmen or women.”
He added: “I know this is quite a controversial and contentious issue but some of our travel agent partners give over their customers’ numbers, and obviously we’ve given a commitment not to use that for marketing purposes. We never would; we’ll write that into contracts and do whatever we need to do; but we wouldn’t abuse that.”
He said there were three scenarios to consider: “One, if we don’t have that number, we would give the customer a substandard service because we can’t contact them in resort to let them know what’s happening; two, we do have the number and give them the service everyone else gets; or three, travel agents operate a 24/7 365-day Support Centre, whereby we can provide information to the travel agents at three o’clock in the morning and they will then have to provide to the customer at five past three.
“A lot of these are small businesses and they don’t have the ability to do that. And I understand that – not everyone can. I understand travel agents’ reluctance to do this, but if we can find a way to get over this, and then we can provide customers with real time information instead of not able to give our usual standard of service because we can’t contact them.”