The fluctuating fortunes of Hellene [School] Travel – it’s SO good to be back.
This ghastly year finally ends on a note of hope with the COVID vaccine in sight!
Our new Hellene School Travel Website is complete. Agents, Hoteliers, Coach Drivers and Tavernas are champing at the bit and it’s fabulous to be receiving a steady stream of enquiries for end of Summer Term and Autumn Half Term 2021.
This time last year we had many plans for a Hellene refurb. “If only we could have a breathing space to regroup,” said one. Oh, how we laughed…
Having created Hellene as a specialised Classics Travel Company, increasing success brought with it an onerous workload. Not wishing standards to suffer we sold, albeit reluctantly, to a larger Company. They in turn sold to a Corporate Body who, whilst retaining our services as specialist consultants, began slowly to subsume Hellene into a more general Travel Portfolio.
January saw a rash of meetings and radical decision making – re-emphasise the Classical Ethos, add more Classical destinations, employ more Classicists! Celebrate 21 years in business!
By February it had been decided to employ three Classicists in Sales & Operations. Over thirty applications were received from candidates of outstanding calibre; telephone interviews were conducted, a final Interview date set! With specialised Classicists on board it was going to be amazing! We were planning to celebrate in style – a heavily subsidised Teachers Trip, Competitions, Quizzes, Prizes!
Then life began to resemble a Greek Tragedy with elements of hamartia & hybris, a devastating peripeteia and a blistering katharsis.
Our 13 year old “Kylix Cat” developed Diabetes further compounded by Akromygalia; a good Greek term, she had style! We nursed her through a lengthy deterioration for as long as there remained hope. Those pesky Greek Gods!
Then flaming COVID. Let no one deny the existence of Nemesis…
In March, the cancellations began; refunds, postponements, damage limitation. Teachers were unfailingly understanding and kind. Staff were in tears – but there was some hope.
April was a month of extreme worry, rumour, counter rumour – and little hope.
Mass redundancies and closure of the whole travel section? Or furlough, survival of Hellene alone, but prepare to re-interview for your own job? Even less hope.
We were the first to be terminated. Huge thanks and immense respect to the ever-dwindling Staff contingent, who continued to deal so efficiently with customer needs, whilst watching their own employment chances evaporate. No hope.
The evening of Friday 1st May we informed Clients. Thus, with over 2,500 messages of condolence & support, much beating of breasts & more tears than Niobe we descended into the depths of Tartarus. No hyperbole, it really did feel like that – and we have been far luckier than most.
The Summer months began with the horror of watching our educational system descend into farce. Then slowly, very slowly Teachers began asking if we’d consider relaunching….and so we have come full (Orphic?) circle. We begin again.
It’s been a hideous, roller coaster of a year which has taught us an awful lot about ourselves & others. Folk really do show their true character in adversity.
We owe a huge obligation to Agents, colleagues, friends and customers, all of whom have been SO supportive – especially those abroad earning precisely zilch from tourism. Some are relying on savings, others have taken alternative employment – all have families to feed. One is taking in stray animals whilst nursing elderly parents, another has passed a distance learning H&S hygiene course whilst tending his market garden, yet another has gone into Teaching. All look forward to the day when Teachers and pupils return.
Our own travel plans have obviously been disrupted but we hope soon to report back from Athens and Rome, with an extended Greek Trip planned for April.
“We are in agony awaiting your arrival,” said one!
Rules and Regulations will continue to change both here and abroad. Travel protocols, airline schedules and prices are in flux. We also now have Brexit to add to the mix.
However, whatever changes and onerous commitments are thrust upon us, rest assured that before you travel, we will have experienced it first!
Thank you for your support.
Stay safe! Stay creative!
Sarah and John
Hellene School Travel
Tel: 01342 324727