Mayflower Cruises & Tours

One of America’s most venerable operators plots its strategy coming out of COVID-19

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While Mayflower Cruises & Tours along with parent company The Scenic Group has suspended all operations until August 31, they have been extremely busy plotting strategy for the future. In an interview with Mayflower’s president, Nish Patel, it’s apparent their travelers are as well.

The company has successfully moved most travelers to new departure dates into the future with others opting for refunds, specifically for trips like the Oberammergau Passion Play, an event that has been postponed until 2022. Mayflower’s BDMs are working virtually with group customers, conducting Zoom calls, moving travelers and figuring out how the company can help them through this.

While Patel is hopeful to have groups back on the road soon, safety is the No. 1 one concern and they want to be able to deliver what they promise travelers. As pockets around the country surge in virus transmission and key attractions still aren’t open in popular tourist spots, Mayflower’s internal task force is looking at all the different options of what tours will look like in the upcoming months. This includes reduced capacity on motorcoaches, ensuring CDC guidelines are put in place, and making sure hotels and restaurants manage their safety protocols.

“We’re monitoring it every day,” said Patel. “We know the hotels will be available and clean, and as we go through this process and understand more, we may change our thoughts on how we want to restart programs.”

Looking towards 2021, Patel notes that because they plan 18-19 months out, the firm already had a fair amount of ’21 bookings before this started. With a big chunk of their 2020 business moved over to 2021, parts of next year are doing better overall than where they were last year at this time.

Mayflower has juggled its product line-up, adding new domestic product and increasing space on more popular tours. Fortunately, their catalog was not printed so they were able to shift tours on the fly.

Patel also feels that in contrast to blue ocean cruising, river cruising will bounce back relatively quickly. He stressed only unpacking once, small number of passengers (50-150), the fact that they hit land every day and everything is controlled.

“When you are taking a land tour, you are hoping the hotel and restaurant are keeping everything clean,” Patel said. “With river cruises, we own the ship, it’s our staff and we make sure that everything is clean. So whether you’re in the restaurant, your rooms or public spaces, everything is done under our eyes. We are already seeing an upside to our river cruise bookings for next year.”