C-Travel sees corporate travel business decline
C-Travel will be targeting the younger market catering to the budget and luxury travellers alike, having seen a decline in the corporate side of the business.
That is according to Carl Paiva, CEO of C-Travel, who said that cruise and tour sales had held up well, with a focus on providing individual tours through the company’s new owners Kensington Tours.
Speaking ahead of C-Travel’s move to its new location at the former Logic Communications store in Burnaby Street, Mr Paiva said that relocating to a more spacious premises would enable the company to expand its team of seasoned independent travel agents to deal with the volume of trade.
Ironically C-Travel, whose logo is the same shade of yellow as DHL, will be moving in next door to the courier service, with both companies having previously been based in Bermudiana Arcade, and opening on the same day September 6.
“The main reason we decided to move to Burnaby Street was because the space we have here (Bermudiana Arcade) is too small,” said Mr Paiva.
“A lot of customers both Bermudians and guest workers like to come in and see their agents. In order to expand more to facilitate all of our customers and have everyone under the same roof (on two floors) we needed to have more square footage.
“We also needed more street front windows for our marketing and advertising.”
Mr Paiva said that despite there being a lot of rental space around town, not much of its was big enough for his company’s needs, but when a broker contacted him about the store previously occupied by Logic becoming available, he jumped at the opportunity.
He said that the recession had impacted the business but there were some key areas which the company had done well in to counter that.
“The economy has certainly affected the travel business,” he said. “What we have seen is a very strong cruise and tour business, while with our ethnic business for guest workers from Portugal, Jamaica and India, which is a very big business for us, I have noticed that a lot of them are buying one-way tickets home so many have lost their jobs.
“And we have expanded our visa business for guest workers from India and the Philippines who often have real issues in obtaining them.”
Mr Paiva said that one of the hardest hurdles to overcome was convincing the public that international travel agents such as C-Travel could be as competitive or if not better than on cruises, tours and customised itineraries their counterparts in the US due to getting better rates from their vendors who in turn want to grow their market share.
Meanwhile he said that the advent of the Internet had mainly impacted airline ticket sales, however he urged travellers with detailed or complicated itineraries to use travel agents who have access to the availability of all the carriers and fares.
Citing the volcanic eruption in Iceland which caused a huge amount of travel disruption as an example of the benefits of using a travel agent, Mr Paiva said that many people who had booked with online travel websites had no recourse for changing their plans, whereas those who had gone through a bona fide travel agent were able to be re-routed on their journey, with many going back to their travel agents to book the next trip as a result. In addition they are able to match the product they offer to the customer’s needs, budget and personality.
C-Travel was launched at the former site of Pirate’s Port in November 2000 and moved from Queen Street next door into Bermudiana Arcade in July 2010, as Mr Paiva fondly remembers.
“The travel business was booming,” he said. “We had two floors of agents but like everyone else we were hit by the recession.
“The corporate business definitely slipped because they were dealing with the recession and while we have not seen an upswing in that part of the business we have done on the local side.
“We are really a Bermudian company and the Bermudians are very faithful to their travel agents.”
In the future Mr Paiva hopes to be able to bring in junior agents to assist the senior agents depending on the development of the business and expand its range of services.
The new C-Travel store is open from Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm and on Saturday from 9am to 5pm.
For more information contact 292-3033, e-mail info[AT]ctravel.bm or visit the website at www.ctravel.bm