Interview with Stuart Hall & Helen Haworth, Co-owners and directors, Stuart Hall Cycling
1. Tell us about your company, what sets you apart from other active holiday tour operators?
We believe there is no other tour operator in Mallorca that can match the levels of experience combined with the quality and low prices offered by Stuart Hall Cycling. We have spent more than 30 years guiding rides in Mallorca, meaning we really do know all the best routes. More importantly, we love passing on this knowledge to our customers and our overriding aim is to be as inclusive as possible, which is why we keep our prices so low.
We provide 4* luxury spa accommodation, private airport transfers and carbon hire bikes from our in-house fleet. Our trips attract a huge variety of cyclists – from those in their 20s to those in their 80s, a good mix of women and men, experienced riders and novices just starting out in the sport. And a high percentage return again and again.
To encourage the next generation of cyclists we sponsor an under-23 cycle racing team and give financial support to cycling events and charities.
2. How have you adapted to changing demand and circumstances during this challenging year and what do you see as an upcoming trend for 2021-22?
The coronavirus will be a short-term challenge, but a good reputation lasts forever. Our focus during this awful pandemic has been entirely on the welfare of our customers and staff and we are confident we will be rewarded in the long term by their loyalty.
We threw our normal terms and conditions out of the window early on, providing full and quick refunds for all money paid for our holidays to all customers who wanted them, and full credit notes for those who preferred to leave their money with us. The number of positive emails we received praising our proactive approach, clear communications and immediate refunds has been overwhelming. We have initiated a Covid Refund Guarantee, which will remain in place for as long as uncertainty surrounding the virus continues.
We acted fast throughout the pandemic offering trips wherever possible. When travel to France was restricted, we ran a trip in the Dolomites in Italy instead.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, we anticipate a growing emphasis on safety, a continued desire for flexibility over refunds and increased demand for single occupancy of rooms. We are confident that outdoor, active, healthy holidays will be in high demand once travel restrictions are lifted. And we are certain that we can provide our valued customers with the safe holidays they deserve.
3. What benefits do you see in ETOA membership and why did you decide to join?
Even before the pandemic, it was a challenging time for the travel industry due to the difficulties posed by Brexit. ETOA has been a key resource in navigating this situation and this is the reason we joined.
We have enjoyed the regular webinars and updates provided by ETOA, and their ability to disseminate relevant and targeted information for tour operators, as the UK and European regulations evolve, is a key strength.
Our staff have also felt supported by our investment in the ETOA Tour Guide ID cards. As Covid uncertainty dissipates and our focus returns to further building our business, we look forward to tapping into ETOA’s network of businesses to develop new partnerships with companies with a shared focus on customer satisfaction and loyalty.