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Sunny Heart Travel: Ex-Thomas Cook staff launch it on 1 March

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sunny heart travel ex thomas cook staff launch it on 1 march

Opening a travel agent in the midst of a global pandemic may seem like a brave move but that is exactly what Sunny Heart Travel is doing.

The travel firm, made up primarily of ex-Thomas Cook employees, is set to launch on 1 March and the team are ‘very optimistic’ about future success.

Initially due to start trading last October, the launch date was pushed back as the second national lockdown was enforced.

However, the company is now raring to go with Steve Bentzen, chief executive, positive the team can make a success of it.  

The firm are optimistic about their launch and have spent months working on setting it up

The firm are optimistic about their launch and have spent months working on setting it up

The firm are optimistic about their launch and have spent months working on setting it up

Sunny Heart Travel, is based in Peterborough, where Thomas Cook had its headquarters. It even has a ‘sunny heart’ logo associated with the former brand, which collapsed in September 2019. 

This is Money initially reported on the launch of the firm in September when the plan was to start trading in October.  

While this was delayed, the team of nine employees are now ready to start selling holidays, despite Britain currently being in a lockdown with only essential travel allowed. 

Steve said: ‘We’re feeling very optimistic about our launch. Our operational costs are low, our website is state of the art, we have a great team raring to go and a new booking system ready to put through its paces.

‘In some ways it’s a great time to launch, there is a huge pent up demand for holidays and if Government restrictions are eased it will be a great business to be in.’  

The team hopes with so many looking to make up for lost time, and the roadmap out of lockdown now announced, travellers will be keen to make advanced plans.

However, those arriving in the UK from abroad will have to quarantine for 10 days at present with people coming in from ‘red list’ countries having to pay £1,750 to spend those 10 days in quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel. 

Does this not make Steve nervous?  

‘Who knows what will happen but we know that if we don’t dip our toe in the water some time, we never will.’ 

Launch: Steve Bentzen, pictured, is the boss of the newly formed Sunny Heart Travel group

Launch: Steve Bentzen, pictured, is the boss of the newly formed Sunny Heart Travel group

Launch: Steve Bentzen, pictured, is the boss of the newly formed Sunny Heart Travel group

He said the firm is fully prepared for the event of cancellations and that all customers will be given full 14 day refunds in the event of enforced cancellation.

All booking payments are also held in trust to provide what Steve describes as ‘complete security’ for its customers.

Customers worried about their holidays being cancelled or rebooked will be offered protection to ensure they can book without worry.

Steve said: ‘Our suppliers are working hard in resort to promote a peace of mind stamp, showing their hotels and transport services have been thoroughly sanitised ready for new customers.

‘We are members of PTS which means customer’s money is held in trust, giving the customer peace of mind that their money can only be used for their specific booking and is protected by ATOL regulations.’

Sunny Heart expects bookings for late 2021 and summer 2022 when it begins trading with the firms contractors now busy negotiating early booking rates to share with their customers. 

A large number of destinations will be available to customers with a global portfolio  available via phone through to the firms sales team.

It has also kept its cached search on the website for the more popular, much loved shorthaul destinations, with a few tropical long hauls thrown in.

The initial search is so vast that when using live feeds from suppliers, the search takes over 10 seconds. If you use data that has been cached there is less traffic over the internet and hence it is much quicker.

It gives almost instant search results so no-ones patience will be tested when booking. 

Start: The Sunny Heart website will launch on March 1 after months of work and planning

Start: The Sunny Heart website will launch on March 1 after months of work and planning

Start: The Sunny Heart website will launch on March 1 after months of work and planning

Steve said: ‘We’re hoping to make our mark on Spain, Turkey and Egypt due to some absolutely fantastic offers we can’t wait to share. We have selected a range of very nice hotels with exceptional health and safety standards.’

However, for many people, foreign travel will be the last thing on their mind, even if restrictions are lifted.

Therefore, Sunny Heart will also be offering staycations which will be promoted via social media, its blog and its website.

All holidays will be bookable through the sales team.

The team are all still currently working remotely due to the national lockdown but has a head office in Peterborough.

Steve said: ‘We have taken on ex-retail staff as homeworkers, and although we don’t operate stores, the skillset is the same and we are confident that the professionalism and dedication of the sales staff will be visible to customers.’

Whilst it may be a few months before foreign travel is permitted again, when that time comes, there will certainly be thousands of holidaymakers ready to jet away – and this is what Sunny Heart is relying on.  

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