Travel agents adopt new approach to bank holidays ahead of King’s coronation

By Harry Kemble
30/03/2023
Home » Travel agents adopt new approach to bank holidays ahead of King’s coronation

Travel agency bosses say giving staff the day off for the new 8 May bank holiday is more important than lost bookings.

The Government announced the additional bank holiday to mark the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday 6 May.

Several operators, including Jet2, Gold Medal and Travelpack told Travel Gossip they will be open on 8 May, but many independent agents said they don’t expect their staff to work.

Hays Travel said it would close more than 400 shops on 6 May, so staff can watch the coronation, but shops will open normal bank holiday hours – usually 11 till 4 – on 8 May.

“Plans for community activities linked to the coronation are being developed and more details will be shared when they are finalised,” Hays said.

Barrhead Travel said it would reduce hours and services like on all bank holidays.

The Scottish travel agency said it had given staff an additional day of annual leave to be taken this year.

But other agency bosses said their attitudes towards working on bank holidays had changed during the pandemic.

Miles Morgan Travel Chief Executive Miles Morgan said all 19 shops will close on every bank holiday in 2023 as staff had done an ‘amazing job’ so far this year.

“Ordinarily we would open up with a skeleton staff but I’ve seen how hard they’ve worked,” said Miles, who added that a virtual call centre was available to customers.

Pole Travel Director Jill Waite said it was not fair on staff if they had to work on bank holidays, adding: “It’s something I thought more about during the pandemic.

“It’s going to be absolutely dead anyway. It’s just not worth opening when you think of the amount of business that you’ll do when you’ve staffed the shop and put the heating on.”

Jill added that increasingly customers assumed staff would work on bank holidays. “It really annoys me – it’s like no one is entitled to any downtime,” she said.

Michele Dance, owner of Eastleigh-based Ocean World Travel, said she would switch on the phones on 8 May ‘because you can be a life saver’ and help customers on a bank holiday, but she said her staff will not be working.

“We’ve all changed our approach to life [following the pandemic],” she added. “It’s nice for the staff to have the day off and it shows a bit of respect to the monarchy.”

Carol Kirkham, owner of Kirkham Travel, said: “Do you actually think people are going to book a holiday that weekend? Everyone will be on holiday.

“It would be nice for the whole world to get behind the coronation.”

Phil Nuttall, Travel Village Group owner, agreed that it was always quiet on a bank holiday. “We don’t open on bank holidays – it’s our business policy,” he added.

One agency boss even raised concerns that he would lose staff if he made them work on a national holiday.

“My team value having the bank holidays off more than ever before,” said Cruise365 owner Anthony Blackmore. “Yes, we would do some bookings on bank holidays, but not to enough to worry about losing good staff in a competitive jobs market.”

However, operators Jet2holidays; dnata Travel Group B2b brands Gold Medal, Pure Luxury, Cruise Plus, Incredible Journeys; Riviera Travel and Travelpack will be available to take calls on 8 May.

Travelpack Director Vishal Patel said the tailormade specialist staff in India would take calls while UK-based staff would be given the day off.

“We have an office in India so we’re able to open,” he said. “We’ll be working as normal although no one in the UK will be working. There are always problems to fix.”

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