Olympic Inspiration: JacTravel Turns Adversity into Success


JacTravel, the UK-based wholesale tour operator best known for its extensive range of hotels online and inbound travel services has won over a dozen assignments to provide ground-handling services to inbound corporate and sporting interest groups to London during the Olympics – and further contracts are in the pipeline.

The winning streak is particularly remarkable because JacTravel’s core business is wholesale leisure travel not corporate or sporting interest travel, niches dominated by specialist operators.  Three years ago, its CEO, Mario Bodini, became convinced that the summer of 2012 would be commercially unviable for bringing regular tourists to London and this has indeed proved to be the case.  This conclusion stemmed from a series of hard-hitting reports produced by the European Tour Operators Association about the impact of the Olympic Games on tourism and from discussions with hoteliers.   The hotels told him that they would be seeking radically different terms and conditions during the Olympic period, including inflated rates, a requirement to provide monies up front and punitive cancellation terms. 

Faced with these challenges, Mario decided to try to plug the gap in regular leisure business by establishing an Olympics strategy, built around a few key staff with strong incentive travel expertise.  He then set about wooing a new type of corporate customer.  This bold plan has paid off handsomely, as JacTravel has secured its largest ever assignment, an international Olympic incentive programme and the company projects its 2012 Olympic operations will more than compensate for the drop in leisure sales.

In addition to the usual ground-handling services of researching and booking venues, hotels, transfers, restaurants, sightseeing and visitor attractions, JacTravel has also created numerous bespoke activities.  These include activity days, involving hovercraft racing and a diverse selection of country pursuits and bolt-on tours to other parts of the UK such as Edinburgh and Ireland plus the major European cities – Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris and Rome.

JacTravel, CEO, Mario Bodini says: “Once we realised the effect the Olympics would have on travel patterns to the UK in 2012, we realised that a very high proportion of our traditional inbound business would be displaced.  We had a choice – to see this as a problem or as an opportunity – we were inspired by the ideals of the Olympic Games and opted to see the situation as an opportunity – and I’m very glad we did.  We now have an Olympics knowledge base that will be extremely useful for 2012 and beyond.  After the Games, we will have several substantial case studies that will position us well to handle much more incentive business and travel around major sporting events.”

Source = JacTravel
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