Like most other travel businesses, Chimu Adventures’ 2020 was a story of attrition and survival as a result of the global COVID 19 outbreak.
Following the repatriation of its clients in March 2020, the company’s phone went silent, with the exception of irregular calls regarding potential refunds or re-bookings.
The last quarter of 2020, however, saw significant changes for Chimu, with bookings to Antarctica demonstrating great resilience as reservations on the Ocean Endeavour – the expedition ship operated in partnership with Intrepid Travel – enjoyed a dramatic increase on the back of COVID-19 vaccination hopes
“The fourth quarter saw the dawn of the company’s sales revival, as we moved from a survival footing to a point where Ocean Endeavour sales were actually slightly higher than our sales for the corresponding months in 2019,” said Chad Carey, co-founder of Chimu Adventures.
Carey admitted the majority of that growth was due to strong demand from the US market, particularly during October and September.
“To add to this has been the great success of our Southern Lights by Flight product operating here in Australia, which will visit the Southern Aurora by air, launching in Autumn this year,” he said.
“The flights are operated behind state borders, meaning the flights are not subject to border closure woes.”
“The 10-hour flights will head out from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane to witness the light phenomenon in the Auroral Zone overnight, before returning to the same state capital in time for breakfast.
“There is still availability on these flights, so the enquiries and bookings continue to come in with some travel agencies booking multiple seats.”
However, nothing prepared Chimu for what happened in December. Ocean Endeavour sales jumped 320 per cent above sales from December 2019 – a figure that even stunned the company’s management team. These sales were across both the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 Antarctica season.
Again, sales were skewed towards the North America market, but Chimu’s reservations manager, Kieron Tebbutt, reported increased demand within the Australian market too.
“We have had an unexpected surge in demand during December from both Australia and abroad, with two particular bookings in Australia totalling in excess of $180,000,” he said.
As a result, Chimu has already brought many staff back to full-time hours, with more expected to follow the next few months.
Carey noted the federal government’s recent announcement of a fast-tracked COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Australia to be completed by October 2021 means many consumers are now starting to consider international travel bookings beyond that date.
“Clients who are more sceptical about the timeframes around international borders are also booking, albeit for the 2022/2023 season, which is already on sale,” he said.
Featured image source: Chimu Adventures