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When you head out on holiday and arrive at your destination, pretty much the first thing to do is locate your hotel and decide on the best method of getting there. Whether you arrive by plane, by boat or by coach, most travel providers operate from one central hub – be it an airport or a coach station – and so where you go from there is completely up to you.
This is where transfers come into play and where the transfer industry competes against private transport to offer convenience which is also affordable and can be booked in advance as part of a holiday package deal.
In essence, a transfer is a method of transport which is specifically designed to take you from the arrival port to your end destination. Many consumers look at transfers and assume that they are just glorified taxis, however the beauty of a transfer vehicle is that it is often organised and operated by third party travel agencies which include the transfer as part of a deal – meaning that not only is it affordable, but it also puts you on a transfer with other guests staying at the same hotel as you or in the same local area.
When we talk about transfers and the transfer industry, it’s very easy to allow your mind to jump straight to a resort holiday in Europe – with hoards of travellers coming off the plane and standing by a small sign which indicates the arrival point of the transfer bus to their hotel. However, as an industry, transfer provide a great deal more of a service than that, with various levels of transfer available, and for many even starting with the running of consumers from the car park to the departure gate in their home country.
Let’s first look at the standard level of transfer which is available between the airport car park and the departure gate, and the airport arrivals building and the end hotel. What this most basic provision from the transfer industry does is create a business out of the convenience that consumers demand as part of their holiday experience. By giving consumers a quick and easy way of getting from one place to another, the provider is ensuring that private taxi ports don’t get clogged up, and is also helping consumers to save money by offering a group solution rather than leaving them to pay for private taxi hire. One of the best and most convenient things about standard and basic transfer packages is that they can be incorporated into and booked as an add-on with most elements of a holiday – whether it be the flight itself or the hotel booking.
While this is great in terms of marketing and ensuring that the consumer doesn’t miss out on a chance to pre-book their transfer, it is worth noting that it can be very easy to accidentally book the transfer twice by adding it onto both the flight and hotel deal – and that once booked, you are very unlikely to get a refund for your own mistake. This means that consumers should take extra care to understand exactly what they are booking at each stage of the holiday process, and should read the fine print to check that a transfer isn’t automatically included across any part of the booking – ultimately saving the money of booking an extra seat for each member of your travel party.
Moving on, we come to the more premium styles of transfer – most of which can also be booked through the same providers, but which offer that little bit of extra luxury which elevates the user experience to something more memorable and high end. Some of the best examples range from private cars to limousines, electric cars and even accessible and special access vehicles as required by those who have difficulty getting into and out of cars. What the last example represents is the rise in the accessibility of the travel industry – not only through its provision of accessible planes and larger seats, but also in the transfer industry as well.
When it comes to the luxury offerings within the transfer industry though, one of the main things for consumers to note is that most of the top level transfers are not selected by consumers as independent bookings – rather, they tend to come as part of high level package deals, for example a business or first class flight will often include a premium transfer from home to the airport, and from the destination airport to the end hotel all wrapped up in the higher priced deal. Thus, for these consumers, the transfer is part of a deal which they can save on – even if it is luxurious and high end.
Another example of transfers in action looks at internal transfers between flights and even between different airports in the same city – for example consumers flying from the UK to Bangkok often have to stop over at Abu Dhabi and switch from one city airport to another via the provision of a regular transfer bus. On a more local scale, transfers between large UK airports and terminals can present as much need for transfer as those further afield, with everything from shuttle trains to buses being designed to shuttle hordes of passengers from one terminal to another when they are looking to get a connecting flight or when their flight has been redirected.
And then we have the transfers which are infinitely more exotic than a bus or coach – namely those which are required as part of the complete travel experience to island resorts and secluded destinations. These kinds of transfer are often provided via a small plane, departing from the mainland and taking guests to their final destination, for example in the Maldives or the Caribbean, where the planes tend to take between 2 and 10 passengers and their luggage. The main thing to note about these kinds of transfers when compared with standard and basic airport transfers is that they are necessary for getting to the resort and so in some capacity, and so they tend to be included as part of the holiday boking rather than being offered as an add-on.
For consumers seeking the ease and convenience of a transfer booking, whether it’s a private car, premium seaplane or limousine, or just a standard seat on the transfer coach or bus, the biggest operator names in the industry tend to be partnered with airlines and package holiday providers to ensure that consumers know exactly what they are looking for when they seek out their pre-booked transfer. If you visit the booking site of any top airline, you will see how at the bottom of the transfer information page they tend to advertise their partnerships – in the case of Ryanair, this is Looking4Transfers. For the most part, these transfer providers are often not brand names that we are aware of – primarily because they are operated on more of a local scale and do not enjoy the same international success as the airline itself. This is why airlines advertise the transfer as a partnership rather than simply stating the name of the provider.
Some of the other transfer companies and providers used by airlines include:
As these are all independent company names, they each operate under their own business model and so the offering of each is also completely different – going some way towards explaining why some consumers herald and heap praise on their transfer experiences, while others simply use online outlets to share their bad experiences and ward future consumers away from booking services with certain providers. The truth is that the consumer has little say over which company presents their transfer service - it all comes down to which companies the airline is partnered with, and which providers a package holiday organisation chooses to work with to deliver transfers to consumers.
One of the interesting situations under which transfers become necessary with short notice is in the case of flight alterations and cancellations – requiring transfers to be provided on the behalf of airline companies and providers which need to move passengers from one terminal to another, or to take them to temporary accommodation while they await a replacement flight. In order to keep the travel and tourism industry moving, the provision of these sorts of complimentary transfers is necessary both quickly and safely – and so the transfer industry as a whole is underpinned by a demand which is both planned in advance and which could be called upon under emergency circumstances.
One of the leading trends which is taking hold as travel becomes ever more commonplace and airlines arrange increasing numbers of flights, has to do with those transfers between the airport car parking complex and the airport itself. While peak travel hours are served by regular buses, those travelling outside of the usual daylight hours are now asked to call an operator hotline and request a bus – with most promising a service within minutes. In these instances it is important that the consumer be as aware of their location and where they want to go as the operator – and this is why car parks in particular have upgraded their layout to ensure that consumers can easily located exactly where they are parked and thus where they need to be picked up from.
Another trend in the transfer industry is the rise in last minute holiday bookings and thus the need for last minute transfer bookings. Before, transfers were always something that consumers booked in advance – giving operators a chance to devise schedules and ascertain exactly which consumers needed to go to which locations before placing them on specific bus routes in line with other demands from other passengers. Guests who have booked transfers from hotels back to the airport again will be especially aware of the need to book in advance, with most hotels offering guests support with calling and arranging their transfer back to the airport again almost as soon as they have arrived and checked in. Due to this, the transfer industry has had to adapt and shift its logistical strategy substantially in order to meet the needs of those consumers who make holiday bookings at the last minute and who look for transfer in the days before – or even on the day of – travel. One of the main ways in which providers can balance this is through the use of more low capacity transfer vehicles such as minibuses and even private cars rather than buses and coaches – while hiking the prices for last minute bookings. Another method which many are using is partnerships with local taxi firms, whereby the consumer can pre-book their taxi through the transfer company and then receive the service from a local taxi who meets them and takes them to the right hotel.
In essence, the transfer industry is one which is driven almost completely by demand. It is only as travel and the tourist industry has grown stronger in the last few decades, with more of us flying to far flung destinations and booking various hotels, that transfers have even become necessary – and while car hire is also on the rise among those who want access to their own freedom and transport for the duration of their trip, for the most part we tend to find that for those staying in a resort, the provision of a transfer ride is enough. The best deals are enjoyed by those who book in advance, particularly those who shop around and read the fine print relating to their hotel and flight or travel bookings in order to ensure that a transfer isn’t included as part of their booking package. Depending on the season of travel and travel times, additional deals and vouchers can often be found and enjoyed – it simply requires the consumer to look out for them.
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