Romford travel company win hat-trick of awards after 'challenging' year
- Credit: Steve Dunlop
A Romford travel company picked up three gongs at an industry award ceremony last week.
Ocean Holidays won rising brand of the year, champions of data and best customer relationship management platform at the Travolution Awards on November 25.
The Florida-specialist business is run by two sets of brothers, Romford-born Daniel and David Ox and George and Harry Hastings from Brixton.
When they started selling holidays using teletext in 2004, the youngest among them, Harry, was only 19 years old.
They are now the largest growing ATOL holder for the 2021/22 period, compared to the last pre-pandemic year in 2018/19.
Today, Ocean Holidays consists of three distinct travel brands: Ocean Florida, Winged Boots and Ocean Beds.
Co-chief executive Harry said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been recognised by industry leaders for our work over the past year, which has been incredibly challenging, to say the least, for the global travel industry.”
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The company sends more than 30,000 passengers to Florida annually and 85 per cent of their overall business is to the US.
“Like all travel companies, we’ve been obliterated when US borders are shut,” Harry said.
“We were very fortunate that we managed to retain 80pc of our staff and we managed to retain around 85pc of our bookings and customers.
“We had a low amount of customers that took refunds and a high amount of customers who stuck with us during the pandemic.”
Ocean Holidays employs 130 people in its head office in St Edwards Way.
Harry attributed the award victories to Ocean Holidays' use of technology, which he claimed helped to deliver a strong personal service to customers.
You can’t book online with Ocean Holidays, rather customers have to register interest to enter a customer relationship management platform, which Harry said helped the company support its clients at each stage of their holiday experience.
Of running a company with two sets of brothers, Harry said: “We’ve been doing this 19 years now, as two sets of brothers we’ve worked very closely together.
“As with all families we’ve had ups and downs, but broadly speaking we’ve maintained a great relationship.”