Updated: Jul 2, 2020
In our second ‘Product Thursdays’ webinar, Richard is joined by Sarah Arane and Jarrod Zurvas from Quark Expeditions. The team chat about the company’s response to the crisis, how things are changing, safety measures and why they’re staying on the front foot in terms of sales activity right now. This is another valuable session with insight into how a Polar Region expedition company, averted a potential COVID-19 catastrophe and how its preparing to make the most of the recovery.
· When all major airlines decided to cancel flights in March early this year, Quark Expeditions were obligated to suspend all upcoming trips. This included the decision to cancel an Antarctic expedition from Ushuaia a day before departure. Jarrod was responsible for informing Australian customers of this information, before embarking on their flights.
· Another ship was required to cut their trip two days early, and needed to complete 14 days of quarantine moored in the harbour in Argentinian waters.
· If the decision to suspend upcoming trips was not enforced at that time, the company could be looking at a completely different story today.
· Every Quark Expedition team around the globe is off the road right now and working from home.
· They’re working full time and have taken 10 days of unpaid leave as a company. Employees are given the freedom to manage that however they like.
· In terms of changes in messaging, Quark Expeditions will emphasise instilling trust in the cruise industry. They will also market the value of bucket list destinations.
· The company was required to cancel their summer season and suspend the Arctic 2020 trips. They can only offer credits for this season, but most of this year’s customers have been reaccommodated and the company is trying to be as flexible as possible and minimise any losses for customers.
Strategies for Staying Ahead
· With the suspension of one season, Quark Expeditions released future seasons which don’t start for 12-18 months.
· These include Antarctica’s sailing season from November 2021 to March 2022, and the Arctic’s sailing season from May 2021 to September 2021.
· With these long leads, the company has found strong consumer engagement with their social media posts and website.
· With a solar eclipse in Antarctica in November next year and the 100th anniversary since Ernest Shackleton’s death in January 2022, there are interesting marketing points coming up for the company.
· In the wake of the crisis, consumers will be looking for the guarantee that trips will go ahead. That is why promoting travel for the long term provides customer confidence, and the evidence is in the strong engagement with Quark Expedition’s 2021 season.
· The operations and product teams are working on safety measures right now. As their second largest market is China, the company was implementing hygiene regulations before the problem became a pandemic. They had already introduced temperature checking, passport control and mandatory incubation periods prior to expeditions, before the lockdown.
· Antarctica has strict bio-security regulations the company already adheres to before customers disembark the ship, such as new parkers, vacuumed backpacks, clothing checks, boot scrub etc. The company will continue following this protocol and may bring it to their Arctic season.
· You can find a travel agent portal on the company’s website which includes dates, rates, itineraries and marketing collateral. They are also running webinars for agents on various trade channels and potentially, via The Travel Industry Hub.
For any other information on Quark Expeditions, you are welcome to contact Sarah or Jarrod on Facebook or LinkedIn. To watch the full webinar, head to The Travel Industry Hub’s Facebook Page, and to keep updated on our upcoming Survive and Revive sessions, follow the link below.