In every resort of Majorca this week there is only one story. The affects of the Thomas Cook collapse on the whole island. The Soller Valley works largely with independent travellers and the chaos and unhappiness of the last week has not been experienced here to the same extent as other places. The Thomas Cook clientele in our larger hotels appear to have been from the German part of the business which operated under different rules this week. This is of course the short term story and will mean that October promises to be quieter than usual. Some hotels are considering closing earlier than they expected to this season.
The bigger story for employees of the supply chain and the transport companies is being felt in Soller. Many Sollerics work for them and are facing redundancy.
Then there are all the people who have always used the Thomas Cook low cost airline to travel to their houses here. This, for regular travellers is a big blow. It takes away the choice of carriers, puts the price up in the short term and causes uncertainty for future plans. Soller depends on its visitors who arrive to stay, and on those who take one of the many day trips by train and tram. The predicted downturn of this market this winter will have noticeable consequences.
The coffee house chatter anticipates a quiet winter, a few closures of businesses who have been struggling and optimism for next year. As Thomas Cook employees look for other work Jet 2 are ramping up their recruitment programme for next year. This will ensure that some people find a new job very soon. The change of emphasis to encourage direct bookings with hotels mean that they are reconsidering their procedures. To be truly competitive means that a designated person has to be on hand to answer the phone and take the reservation. In the days of everything being done online there is a shortage of hotels who are capable of operating a personalised booking service.
The lesson of the demise of Thomas cook is that there are still thousands of people who want to talk to a real person when booking their holiday. They are not interested in doing it online. They are however capable of making a phone call – if there is anyone on the other end of the phone to talk to. This is a wake up call to the whole industry and a lesson that will have to be learned ready for the 2020 season.
The older generation of hoteliers and staff have, of course, seen all this before. This is not the first time that company collapses have caused repatriation exercises and uncertainty.
It is the fear of the unknown that upsets as people reset their immediate plans to take account of a major downturn in finances.
So many have written much about the massification of Majorca. Too many visitors and too many hotels being given permission to open, is their story. The last few years have been very successful for the brands and hotels with the most to gain from visitors. Now the dialogue has changed and there is real fear that numbers will reduce. In the past a slogan was used to say that ‘every visitor is a friend’. In recent years some of the graffiti slogans would indicate that this was not a universal feeling. ‘Be careful what you wish for’ is another overused comment of the moment.
Family holidays in the sun are a fact of life these days. They join the huge number of City Break weekend travellers in being the clients that will not leave Majorca. There is no doubt that this winter will be one of discontent as the rebooting of the island takes place. Inevitably some great people will leave our island and seek careers elsewhere. It will be Majorca’s loss.
This has been a sad week on our island and the only good news story is in the humanity of the businesses and people who live here. Restaurants giving hospitality to stranded tourists and accommodation found for those whose hotels made them leave if they couldn’t pay the extra charges asked. Travellers have praised the many at the airport who have done their best to make the wait for the planes to take them home as bearable as possible. This island has some great people who have risen to to the challenge of being great Humans of Majorca.