Could adult-only flights really “take off”


The recent news that Dutch carrier Corendon Airlines has started offering adult-only areas on its flights garnered widespread media attention around the world. Rightly so, as it seems that passengers have long been crying out for this service according to an article published in the Spectator that was based on a survey from PhotoAID.

Corendon’s route from Amsterdam to Curaçao in the Caribbean will have a dedicated section at the front of the plane -where those over 16-years-old can enjoy “peace and quiet”- in a move that it says will improve the experience for both those travelling with and without children.

While this move is likely to be popular among many passengers, what does the industry think? Could this trend actually ‘take off’? And what do buyers and suppliers need to do to tap into it? We spoke with several experts from the travel technology distribution space for their reactions.

Pointing out that ‘adults only’ travel services currently exist in the hotel industry, several cruise lines offer ‘adults only’ sections or facilities on various ships, and there are tour operators that focus on adult-only trips, Henry Harteveldt from Atmosphere Research Group recommends that anyone entering into this space do their research first. “Do you have enough customers to make this endeavor worthwhile? Is this profitable? Will this favorably distinguish your brand? Will you be able to sell and service this through all the channels you sell through – including travel agencies, if you use them? If the answers are favorable, a robust and comprehensive marketing strategy -and budget- will be critical. Relying just on search engine optimization and search and social media marketing to create awareness and generate interest won’t be adequate. You’ll need an integrated marketing campaign that encompasses PR, advertising in relevant media, targeted email, promotional activity -and, yes, SEO, SEM, and social media marketing.”

To be successful the idea will require investment from both sellers and B2B buyers of flights: “Travel providers and intermediaries need to think carefully about how they would sell and market this new service,” says Janis Dzenis from price-comparison website WayAway. “Currently, adult-only flights aren’t a typical search term for consumers -many wouldn’t know this is now a real option. A PR or marketing campaign would be needed, alongside new technology that can help adult-only flights appear in the booking flow. OTAs and metasearch companies should consider adding a filter for this emerging service, and consider guiding people to it on their websites, as it’s not something people will naturally know they can search for.”

It’s not just airlines that stand to benefit from this being a success, “travel sellers and buyers of accommodation too should think about how to maximise this new trend,” adds Gareth Matthews from global travel distribution provider Didatravel. “This could be a great opportunity to sell the ultimate adult-only package holiday, for example. Hotels have already mastered the adult-only concept and many have highly successful business models, plus loyal customers and strong distribution networks. Now, the ability to package this with a matching adult-only flight could be a win-win-win for travellers, distributors and suppliers.”

Broadly agreeing with this view, Haluk Kayhan, CEO at PrimeTravel, a fast-growing B2B travel distributor providing accommodations around the world adds: “For retail travel agents sat their facing the client in person or selling over the phone this represents a unique opportunity to add value and personalize a trip -they can judge whether or not a traveller is likely to be interested in an adult only cabin experience in a way that an online seller can’t do in the same way. So we’d recommend that airlines considering this explore the retail sales channel route above others. The prospect of adult-only flights therefore presents an exciting opportunity for both travellers seeking a serene journey and for the industry too.”

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