Iglu buys Planet Cruise

Iglu.com, an Internet-based travel agency that specialises in winter sports holidays, cruises and Christmas holidays to Lapland, has purchased Planet Cruise, a cruise and tour holiday operator.

The buyout was backed by Growth Capital Partners (GCP), an organisation that has owned a stake in Iglu for little over a year. The combined turnover for the combined business is reported to be in the region of GBP135 million.

Both companies are UK-based; Iglu has offices in Wimbledon employing 150 people and Planet Cruise is based in Portsmouth. It is expected that both offices will remain open and that the 75 staff that currently work for Planet Cruise will be retained.

Once the companies are integrated, Iglu claims that its customers will be uniquely placed to source holidays by website, mobile app, tablet or television.

Richard Downs, Iglu’s chief executive, said, ‘This acquisition means we are going to be delivering the future of travel retailing today. With the convergence of TV and the web our customers will have access to the richest and most informed content whichever way they chose to access it.

‘Iglu has long been the number one independent ski retailer in the UK and this deal makes us the number one retailer in cruise.’

Founded eight years ago, Planet Cruise uses television as the main thrust of its sales campaign. It has TV slots on Freeview, Sky, Freesat, and Virgin after launching a cruise show on the Ideal World shopping channel in 2008.

Gary West, managing director of Planet Cruise, commented, ‘Combining Iglu’s online capabilities and our strength on television is an exciting prospect.’


Tuesday’s weather continues to disrupt Wednesday’s UK travel

A day on from Tuesday’s snow and freezing conditions in the UK’s southeast, travel plans were still suffering disruption in the region this morning.

Those worst affected were passengers on Eurostar, the high-speed rail network that connects the UK with France and the rest of Europe via the Channel Tunnel. Continuing freezing weather in Kent, southeastern England, and also in northern France means that delays on the route were inevitable, and longer journey times were also predicted.

A statement on Eurostar’s website read, ‘We anticipate speed restrictions remaining in place throughout the day. Unfortunately as a consequence, we will only be able to operate an amended timetable and journey times will be approximately two hours longer than usual.’

Travellers using air connections to and from the Channel Islands were also expecting delays and cancellations until at least later in the day. The island of Jersey, which rarely sees substantial accumulations of snow, was particularly badly hit by snowstorms during Tuesday. Snow covered runways meant that the airport had to be closed to traffic and was predicted to stay closed until at least 2pm today. A short distance away, the neighbouring island of Guernsey was also forced to ground all flights, and that is likely to be the situation until at least 3pm today. Once the two airports reopen it is expected that there will still be some disruption until aircraft are repositioned.

The weather outlook is at least predicting a gradual end to the freezing conditions over the next day or so, with a return to milder but less settled weather and outbreaks of rain.

Remain Careful on Roads in Freezing Winter Conditions, Advices Car Rental Companies

With January temperatures in the UK freezing, travellers using the roads have to be doubly careful while driving on treacherous terrain.

-Here are some winter driving tips:

-Keep time in hand for long distance drives, to avoid unnecessary hurries.

-Slow down in icy conditions for better control of the car, and allow longer distances to brake.

-Control skidding on ice by releasing the accelerator, and not braking.

-Be careful of shaded roads, which may hide icy road conditions.

-Wear sunglasses to avoid being blinded by the sun reflected on ice.

-Remain extra vigilant on roads and look out for pedestrians and cyclists, who could be experiencing similar difficulties.

In response, Europcar is urging motorists to think about the option of hiring a suitable car instead of relying on driving their own vehicle, for extra peace of mind.

Ken McCall, the managing director of Europcar UK Group, a company offering car hire services in Europe, said, ‘Driving conditions are more challenging during colder weather, with the risk of snow, fog and ice. That’s why it’s more important than ever to be driving a car in which you have confidence.

We are, therefore, encouraging people doing longer journeys over the winter months to think about car hire from Europcar. It offers travellers the assurance that they are in a reliable vehicle that has been fully maintained with all essential items, such as tyres, regularly checked. Plus Europcar vehicles are fully covered by 24 hour roadside assistance, at no extra cost.’

Car hire companies are offering vehicles that are de-iced and doubly checked for safety standards, with qualified staff members offering tips to handle a rented vehicle in difficult driving conditions for visitors to the UK.

Ken McCall says, ‘Our goal at Europcar is to give motorists the very best quality vehicles, ensuring they can drive confidently and safely in any weather. We are, therefore, well prepared for the next few weeks with good availability of vehicles right across the country.’

Strong Pound Encourages Brits to Take a Winter Holiday

Travellers from the UK are being encouraged to take a winter holiday with the pound gaining strength over other European currencies.

With the value of Sterling edging higher and higher against the Euro over the last five weeks, indications are that the British economy is bouncing back by comparison with many of its European neighbours, and this will result in travellers having more spending power for winter vacations.

With British tourists benefiting from saving a few pounds thanks to the strength of Sterling, they will also be more likely to pre-book their other travel components, including car rentals.

A spokesperson for a car rental agency has said, ‘Jetting off for the winter holidays is something a lot of our customers admit they wish they had tried years before. It makes a nice change to get the family away for an end-of-year break and we know from customer feedback that renting a car works out as one of the best ways to get the most out of a holiday any time of the year.’

A report that was submitted at the World Travel market 2012, which was held in London recently, suggested that UK citizens have been taking more holidays in 2012 than in the past three years, having made around one billion trips globally. Around half of UK travellers, or 52 percent, have admitted to taking more than one holiday in 2012, compared to 41 percent in 2011, and barely 24 percent in 2010.

In 2012, 34 percent of travellers have taken two holidays, compared to only 28 percent that did so in 2011. Around 13 percent of UK holidaymakers have taken three trips in 2012, compared to 10 percent in 2011, while 5 percent have taken, or are planning to take, four or more holidays in 2012, compared to 4 percent in 2011.

Bmi Announces Winter 2012 Schedule and Continued Integration with British Airways

British Airways, a UK-based airline company, is continuing the integration of British Midland International (bmi) airline into its main fleet, with its new winter schedule.

The airline is terminating Bmi flights to several destinations, in favour of its main flight routes. Cut from the new schedule are Bmi’s flights to Dammam, which cease on September 16; flights to Bishkek, Yereven and Khartoum, which will terminate on October 1; and services to Amritsar and Casablanca, which will end on October 28, 2012.

The Bmi flights to Riyadh and Jeddah are also terminating on September 16, 2012, in favour of services offered by British Airways to these destinations.

Bmi’s services to Cairo and Moscow will also be ending, on September 5 and October 12, respectively.

The other Bmi services that will be integrated into British Airways include services to Dublin, Almaty, Tbilisi, Baku, Beirut and Freetown.

The new Bmi winter schedule, which commences from October 28, 2012, includes an increase in the number of seats to Scotland, by around 32 percent, with new routes from London City Airport to Aberdeen and the Isle of Man, and London Heathrow Airport to Leeds Bradford and Belfast airports.

Bmi will also be launching new international routes, including ones from London Heathrow to Seoul, Alicante, Rotterdam and Zagreb, and from London Gatwick airport to Las Vegas and Barcelona.

Passengers holding tickets with BD (bmi) flight numbers may have to undergo some changes in services and policies due to the changes in the flight numbers, including changes to Heathrow check-in times and business class hand baggage allowances.


Winter sun and summer sun all wrapped up in one travel insurance policy

With summer in the UK coming to an end and the economic gloom persisting, many great offers on winter sunshine breaks are coming on the market, to beat the seasonal blues and tightened budgets.

The travel industry seems to want to stretch the horizons of people seeking a winter break, with the availability and popularity of more remote, unspoilt getaways being heavily promoted. Alongside the traditional Spanish sun seeking destinations, there are great offers for Africa, the Indian Ocean, Asia and the Caribbean.

Travel insurance specialist, World First Travel Insurance is also encouraging holiday makers to re-think how they book their travel insurance too. Rather than taking insurance for a single trip, they are encouraging people to consider buying an annual multi-trip policy as it is often much more cost effective. Turning a single trip policy into an annual policy may cost less than £30, so it is always worth asking your insurer to quote for both. If you decide to take advantage of the many exotic holiday offers the cost of insurance certainly won’t hold you back. Worldwide annual policies with World First Travel Insurance start from £50

Martin Rothwell, Managing Partner at World First Travel Insurance says, “In the current economic climate getting value for money is essential for consumers.  With travel insurance, very often the best way to save money is to think ahead and anticipate when and where and with whom you might travel so you can buy an annual policy.”

Standard annual policies can cover travel abroad for up to 31 or 62 days at a time and the number of trips you can take is unlimited.

There is still plenty of flexibility if you a buy an annual travel policy and your plans change. You can add different regions to you policy mid-term, if, for example you start with a Worldwide policy excluding the USA, Canada and Caribbean but then decide to travel to the States, this can be added at any point.  You can increase your cover according to what you plan to do, such as adding scuba-diving and watersports to a policy.  Or similarly, if the value of what you might take with you increases, for example you want to take your laptop so you can stay in touch with friends and family back home while you are on your remote island getaway, you can increase your cover.

An annual policy provides peace of mind and one less thing to do whenever you decide to take a break, knowing that you have your insurance sorted when you book trips in advance or decide upon a quick getaway during the year.