Stephen Hobday has more years of sales experience within the travel industry than he is prepared to disclose. He joined Flybe having previously held management positions at P&O Ferries which operated across the English Channel, the UK Automobile Association and various independent travel agencies and tour operators.
Stephen and his team have been responsible for maximisation of agency sales at Flybe from the corporate, leisure, interline and cargo sectors. This has been achieved by the cultivation of relationships and negotiation with business travel management companies, tour operators, other airlines, trade associations and third party sales agents.
Challenges over the years have included the integration of the low cost model in to the travel agency environment and, more recently, the retention and development of an extensive portfolio of corporate accounts that were acquired when Flybe bought BA Connect from British Airways. For more information on Flybe visit www.Flybe.com
Travel Research Online: What has been your most memorable travel experience?
Stephen Hobday: Watching my children’s reactions when they were young during a chilly winter morning’s Jeep safari in South Africa as they witnessed wildlife outside of the confines of a zoo for the first time, not least when my son ventured alarming close to a family of crocodiles on the edge of the Sabi River.
Travel Research Online: How did that influence your understanding or appreciation of travel?
Stephen Hobday: Seeing how exposure to other cultures and landscapes broadened their horizons made me value the benefits of travelling at a young age. I wish that I could have had those early experiences, but my travels came later in life.
Travel Research Online: What first inspired you to work in the airline industry?
Stephen Hobday: I had done the trains and automobiles bit so wanted to complete the set.
Travel Research Online: Please share a brief overview of Flybe.
Stephen Hobday: Flybe is Europes largest regional airline operating 192 routes to 15 countries. In the United Kingdom we operate more flights that any other airline and are the the largest scheduled carrier at Belfast City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, the Isle of Man, Inverness, Manchester, Newquay and Southampton airports. Also, we fly a modern fleet including 45 Bombardier Q400 aircraft, 14 Embraer 195 aircraft and 9 Embraer 175. All of these aircraft are in a 2×2 seat configuration .
Travel Research Online: Are there any unique routes or recent network growth you would like to share with our readers?
Stephen Hobday: Flybe serves 34 UK airports including a number throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland via our franchise partner Loganair. I like to share this about Loganair – the network includes routes into Barra where the aircraft lands on a beach and flight schedules may change due to the tides. That’s a must experience for any avid traveler! In 2011 Flybe acquired Finncom based in Finland in a joint venture with Finnair serving routes across Scandinavia and the Baltics.
Travel Research Online: Last year you rolled “NEW” economy fares. What are the benefits of these rates?
Stephen Hobday: New Economy is a bundled product offering our most popular ancillaries at a great value fare. For a small fee passengers can check-in one bag up to 44 lbs and pre-assign a standard seat. Plus, if the booking needs to be changed no change fees are applied. Agents can find these fares in their GDS where the fare basis includes the word “NEW.”
Travel Research Online: How can a travel agent book Flybe?
Stephen Hobday: Flybe is unique in the low cost market in that we distributing our content to travel agents through all GDS (i.e. travel agents can issue tickets on BE via their GDS system). We are members of ARC and Canada BSP so all accredited agents in North America are able to issue BE tickets. Flybe can also be ticketed on major online travel agency sites or by contacting our support and reservations office in New York by phone (1-877-496-9896) or email by (Flybe@apg-usa.us).
Travel Research Online: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Stephen Hobday: We welcome your business and agent support is only a phone call away. This August Flybe will be joining our US partner – Air Promotion Group USA – at the Global Business Travel Association convention in San Diego. Please come by our booth to meet with us.