Back in 1994 when I joined GIC The Villa Collection, or Greek Islands Club as it was known then, we prided ourselves on offering an upgraded flight service. At a time when check-in desks, seat allocation, on board meal service and a baggage allowance was the norm, GIC went that little bit further. We offered our guests seating at the front of the aircraft, pre- boarding to avoid the rush, a ‘welcome on board’ glass of champagne and meals served with china and glass.
Travel has changed dramatically over the last 20 years and the services we used to expect as standard are either no longer offered or we have to pay for them as an extra.
At The Villa Collection we have tried to stay ahead of the rest by still offering meals, a baggage allowance and pre-seating as standard. We are, however, often limited by the airlines that we use, especially when flying to the smaller Greek islands. With the choice of charter airlines in the UK having become severely limited over the last few years, the problem has become worse.
Both Thomson Airways and Monarch Airlines changed their services some time ago and withdrew the standard hot meal service. They decided to opt for the Buy on Board snack service offered by the likes of EasyJet and Ryanair. Unfortunately, negotiations to allow our clients to continue to receive a meal on these airlines have been in vain and so we are forced to accept their changes whereas we are proud to say that our flights, operated by Germania, will continue to have a full, on-board service.
I have received several letters from regular guests who feel that we are dropping our standards and are penny pinching in removing the hot meal service. This is very far from the truth. We are constantly trying to raise standards but, as you can see, we are often left with little choice!
Sometimes, as a result of being a smaller ’boutique’ operator, our hands are forced by our mass-market suppliers. Rest assured that we are working hard to find innovative solutions to some of these problems in an effort to put some of the glamour back into travel but, unfortunately, these things take time!
GIC The Villa Collection