Hovertravel has launched a charter for Pompey fans on the Isle of Wight with an extra-late, special service.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, says “Getting back into football stadiums is something many fans have been waiting for. As well as operating an extra late service outside the normal timetable at 22:15, Hovertravel has combined a hovercraft ticket with coach travel from the ground after the match, so that Island residents can return on the fastest ferry across the Solent.”
For Portsmouth Football Club match ticket or season pass holders, Hovertravel will operate a late 22:15 service from Southsea, after the home game and include an exclusive charter coach at 22:00 to transfer supporters from Fratton Park to Southsea.
To book please visit: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/PompeyHover/ . Portsmouth Football Club match tickets or season passes must be shown at time of boarding.
Hovertravel ‘s excursion from Ryde to Lee-on-Solent, with three pleasure trips, to celebrate Father’s Day, sold all the tickets.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, says: “This was our first excursion of 2021 and we saw very strong demand, for the trips between Ryde and Lee-On-Solent and our pleasure trips. The appeal of seeing the world’s only hovercraft museum and experiencing the world’s only year-round scheduled passenger hovercraft service attracted a wide variety of customers.”
The pleasure trips are a 20-minute demonstration of the capabilities of the hovercraft including manoeuvres such 360 degree spins, deflation and inflation of the hovercraft’s skirt and high speed change of direction, all accompanied by expert commentary from the pilot.
The Hovercraft Museum houses a collection of over 60 hovercraft including the iconic cross Channel hovercraft from the 1970s and craft used in James Bond films, The Scrap Heap Challenge TV programmes and many others used for military, racing, commercial and home builds. Alongside the craft there are plenty of models and archive materials which depict the history of this amphibious vehicle.
Hovertravel has further excursions on 12th & 19th September, 16th October, 13th November and 12th December with a discounted combination hovercraft travel and museum entry ticket. For more details please click here: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/excursions-and-charters/hovershows-open-days-hovercraft-museum/
Hovertravel has teamed up with Seaview Services to offer guided coach tours of the Isle of Wight, bringing together the convenience of the short hovercraft journey with an easy transfer to a waiting coach at Ryde.
Pat Sowerbutts, Commercial Development Executive at Hovertravel, explains: “We know from our contacts in the coach industry and our own research that many customers want to be able to experience the thrill and excitement of our hovercraft combined with an easy way to explore and discover the Isle of Wight.
We needed a partner who could provide the coach and guided tour element of such a trip and we are delighted to announce today that we are going to be working with Seaview Services.”
Seaview Services is approaching 103 years of organising and delivering coach-based tours and excursions on the Isle of Wight, having been started in 1918 by Richard Newall. Today the business can organise all aspects of your trip to the Island, including booking conference suites, restaurants and hotels.
Phil Robinson, Chairman from Seaview Services added: “We are family run company that is big enough to cope but small enough to care! Additionally we have extensive experience and considerable local knowledge of coach-based tourism on the Isle of Wight. We are looking forward to working with Hovertravel to showcase the fabulous sights that the Island has to offer.”
The first guided tour will be a circular coastal route, taking in the scenic delights of Sandown, Ventor, both Freshwater and Alum Bays and Yarmouth before returning to Ryde. For more details please contact Pat at email@example.com
Hovertravel has announced an enhanced boarding procedure for patients, developed in conjunction with the Wessex Cancer Trust. Patients with the Wessex Cancer Trust lanyard will be allowed to pre-board, ahead of other customers, if they wish.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Having chosen the Wessex Cancer Trust as our charity of the year, we wanted to embrace our relationship and see if we could make practical improvements to our journey experience, which would assist patients.
At the same time we are fully aware of the huge backlog of patients with hospital appointments and that some people might be feeling apprehensive about travelling. Our discussions with the Trust identified that we could give these customers more time to board by offering pre-boarding ahead of other customers.”
The pre-boarding policy was trialled during the month of April, to gain feedback from patients, Hovertravel staff and other customers.
Mike Sizer Green, the manager of Manager of the Isle of Wight Cancer Wellbeing
Centre, adds: “I personally want to thank the Hovertravel team for helping to develop the boarding procedure for Islanders needing to cross the Solent for cancer treatment at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth. The Wessex Cancer Trust Daisy Bus provides around 10,000 individual journeys annually for Islanders affected by cancer. We can be contacted on 01983 524186 or at firstname.lastname@example.org”.
The pre-boarding procedure is voluntary. Hovertravel will make the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen we are about to start pre-boarding for any customers using the Daisy Bus” and at that point any patients who would like more time to board can come forward.
The Wessex Cancer Trust provides a free minibus service (the Daisy Bus) picking up patients from outside the Hovertravel terminal in Southsea and delivering them to the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth.
From Wednesday 5th May Hovertravel is adding extra flights to its weekday timetable. The additional flights are 1545 from Ryde and 1600 from Southsea, on Monday to Friday only.
Julie Horrocks, Head of Ground Operations at Hovertravel explains: “We always monitor our passenger numbers and flows in detail and, over the past year, this has been even more crucial as we responded to the pandemic and the needs of the local community.
Hovertravel has the advantage of being hyper-flexible and we can add flights in very quickly as demand dictates. We also review the data for trends and we can see that, with school children returning home and regular travellers starting to leave work, the hour around 1600 is becoming busier.
These new additions to our timetable will add capacity exactly when it is most needed and demonstrate that Hovertravel is doing all it can to support a sustainable recovery.”
Hovertravel’s booked service returned on 1st May so customers should book online to guarantee their seat and make sure they have scanned their ticket in the terminal five minutes before departure.
Hovertravel’s Island Rescue service has been recognised as 2020’s best Passenger Transport project by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. In its 28th year, the awards ceremony was conducted virtually last night, with a thank you to all the key workers in the transport industry delivered by HRH, The Princess Royal.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, said: “We are humbled to be recognised for our efforts to support the Isle Of Wight NHS and the local communities on either side of the Solent. Our Island Rescue service would not have been possible without the support of Griffon Hoverwork and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and we share this award together with all the engineers, pilots and crew of Hovertravel who continue to help save lives in this way.”
The award judges praised the engineering skill and the prompt regulatory approvals which brought this innovative service into operation in less than two weeks, remarking that “positive change is not always about huge passenger volumes and sometimes a small development can deliver a big difference.“
Neil adds: “The service was born out of COVID but alongside the improved outcomes for Isle of Wight patients, it delivers significant efficiencies for the Isle of Wight’s Ambulance service and is a permanent facility offered by Hovertravel.”
The Wessex Cancer Trust has been selected as the chosen charity of Hovertravel for 2021 with the hovercraft operator having planned a number of fundraising opportunities during the next 12 months.
Neil Chapman, managing director at Hovertravel, said: “We have worked with Wessex Cancer Trust for many years, both in practical terms as the fast connection for cancer patients crossing the Solent for treatment and as a facilitator for fund-raising activity to help save the Daisy Bus.
More recently during the pandemic we collaborated to create a COVID-secure charter to give confidence to patients who have needed to keep travelling through all three lockdowns.
If the events of the last 12 months have highlighted anything, it is the need to support those charities that are making such a difference to the lives of people with complex health conditions. We are looking forward to seeing just how much we can raise for the Wessex Cancer Trust and we know the local communities on both sides of the Solent will add their support too.”
Every year around 23,000 people are diagnosed with cancer within the Wessex region. Formed in 1981, Wessex Cancer Trust helps and supports anyone affected by cancer regardless of age, gender or type of cancer. Their dedicated team are committed to offering free support for as long as people need it, away from a hospital environment. The trust also runs two free minibus service links for clients visiting Southampton General Hospital and Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.
Laura Joyce, Regional Fundraiser at the Wessex Cancer Trust added:
"We're so grateful to Hovertravel for choosing to support us as their charity of the year. Our long relationship with Hovertravel through the Daisy Bus transport initiative and our joint collaboration on a Travel Charter for cancer patients means we have an especially close working partnership. 2020 forced us to cancel the majority of our fundraising events but, with the help of businesses like Hovertravel, we have been able to continue to support people affected by cancer during this difficult time. 2021 is our 40th birthday and we have some really exciting events in the pipeline so keep an eye on our website and social media for details!"
Hovertravel is adding two extra services to its weekday services, to ensure that key workers and essential supplies continue to flow across the Solent. From Monday 25th January, the weekday timetable will include a 1645 from Ryde and a 1700 from Southsea.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel added: “We are in constant communication with the NHS Trusts on both sides of the Solent, to make sure we are answering their requirements for flying medical professionals to and from the Island. Similarly we are listening to those key workers who are traveling with us to identify the times of the day when extra services are needed. With our short journey time of less than 10 minutes and flexible operation we can add in services on an ad hoc basis but we also want to give confidence to those who need to travel and have made these extra services a permanent addition to our timetable.”
Hovertravel’s timetables can be viewed on their website: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/timetables/
Hovertravel is amending its weekend and bank holiday timetable starting from tomorrow. Services will be every two hours instead of hourly from 0815 to 2030.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains: “With the Isle of Wight joining Portsmouth in Tier 4 and the subsequent restrictions imposed on travel for residents in both areas, Hovertravel is adapting its operation to run a service which supports the community in its time of need and keeps the business both resilient and sustainable for the future.
Passenger demand has fallen significantly with the extension of tier 4 to both sides of the Solent and we are reviewing our operation daily. The senior team at Hovertravel is prepared to implement further amends to our timetable at short notice and ask for understanding of our customers as we manage this fast-changing situation.”
Hovertravel is fully committed to continuing to be a critical community service between the Isle of Wight and the mainland. The fast ten-minute journey time and ability to add in extra services in half an hour provide the opportunity to transport people, patients and parcels as demand dictates. Hovertravel’s Island Rescue service is still supporting the medical professionals on the island with stretcher patients travelling since March and its fast freight service is serving the Royal Mail alongside pharmacies and other businesses on the Island.
Hovertravel’s revised timetable is available here
Hovertravel is helping Christmas deliveries arrive on time, with the last flights on Christmas Eve operating as late as 2030 from Southsea.
Julie Horrocks, Head of Operations at Hovertravel, explains: “Whilst we are carrying many less people, we are seeing record levels of mail, parcels and packages, with increases of up to 64% compared to last year. By flying customers’ presents and gifts on our ten-minute service, we are a great option for that last-minute online purchase.”
Hovertravel’s freight operation has been used widely through 2020, delivering everything from windscreens to time-limited pharmaceuticals. The partnership with Royal Mail which has been in place since 1978 and celebrated this year with the Royal Mail logo becoming part of our craft’s livery, has also reached new highs.
Julie adds: “The widely reported boom in online shopping has driven people to use our Shop, Drop and Hover service with customers using our Southsea for their delivery address. We then transport the packages across, quicker than any other courier service.
For this Christmas, we ask that customers stay local, stay safe and let us fly your packages across the Solent.”
Following the Government’s announcement over the weekend, Hovertravel is adapting to the new tighter restrictions and ensuring a consistent service for the communities on both sides of the Solent, as it has done since the start of the pandemic in March.
With immediate effect Hovertravel is announcing, a revised hourly timetable to support those with an essential need to travel.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains: “With Portsmouth entering Tier 4, we have been assessing our passenger numbers and with many bookings being no-shows, we are pleased to see the rules about not travelling are being observed. Our hourly service will keep the Solent connected for essential travel only, alongside the critical rapid transport of stretcher patients, time-limited pharmaceuticals and other post/freight requirements.”
Details of Hovertravel’s hourly service, which includes weekends, can be viewed here: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/timetables/.
Hovertravel is also reverting to a first-come, first-served service. This, combined with the ability to add an extra service in under 30 minutes, will give confidence of sufficient availability to those whose travel is essential.
In addition, if required due to adverse weather conditions, Hovertravel tickets will be accepted at Wightlink’s Portsmouth‐Fishbourne car ferry.
Neil adds: “By continuing to work closely with Wightlink, Red Funnel and the Isle of Wight Council, Hovertravel is ensuring the Solent stays connected. Thanks to the efforts of Hovertravel’s dedicated staff, who have worked tirelessly since the start of this pandemic, our ten-minute lifeline flight is available for people permitted to travel.”
Hovertravel has launched its Christmas appeal as part of HIVE’s Comfort & Joy campaign. Having collected food last year for HIVE, Hovertravel will again have a collection trolley inside their Southsea terminal.
Hovertravel’s Managing Director, Neil Chapman said: "We know that many families have been struggling throughout 2020 and we wanted to give our customer community the opportunity to donate whatever they can, as they pass through.
As supporters of HIVE, we are keen to promote their Comfort & Joy campaign which in partnership with The News, Portsmouth Diocese and the City Council is encouraging everyone in our city as individuals and as groups to share some love in Portsmouth this Christmas.
I know Hovertravel’s customers are a generous bunch and with our staff who also donate individually plus a corporate top-up, we should be able to collect a decent trolley-load.”
HIVE Portsmouth is a collective of organisations dedicated to building stronger, more connected communities across the city. More information can be found here: https://www.hiveportsmouth.com/
Following Wightlink’s announcement that their Fast Cat from Ryde Pier will be suspended from Saturday 14th November until further notice, Hovertravel is re-introducing ticket acceptance for customers.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, said: “For the Solent ferry operators the unique circumstances of this COVID crisis have challenged us all and demonstrated that co-operation is needed now, more than ever. We are proud to be offering Wightlink customers a fast ferry option for this second lockdown. Hovertravel’s commitment to supporting the communities on both sides of the Solent is as strong today in November, as it was in March.”
Hovertravel has added nine extra daily services for Monday to Friday; four more flights in the morning commuter period (Ex Ryde 0700 & 0730 and Ex Southsea 0715 & 0745) and an additional five flights to help customers returning in the evening (Ex Ryde 1600 & 1700 and Ex Southsea 1615, 1715 & 1745).
Operating both craft and offering a 15 minute frequency during commuter times will ensure that people can travel to work, to school, to college or university and for medical appointments.
Those who need to travel and who have pre-booked with Wightlink (including season card holders) will be able to pre-book Hovertravel services from 12 noon on Wednesday 11 November. There will be no additional fare payable and will also include use of the HoverBus for onward connections within Portsmouth.
In the event of adverse weather, Hovertravel is also launching a new disruption plan; a free, dedicated Hoverbus will operate between the Hovertravel terminal in Ryde and the Fishbourne Car Ferry for both Hovertravel & Wightlink customers as an alternative travel option. The Portsmouth Hoverbus will also have an additional service stop at the Portsmouth Gunwharf Terminal.
Neil adds: “The three ferry companies kept the Island connected during the last lockdown and by working together with the Isle of Wight Council we will do it again. Hovertravel is ready and able to serve by continuing to fly people, post and patients across the Solent throughout this pandemic.“
Sight for Wight, the Isle of Wight independent charity dedicated to providing information & support to visually impaired Islanders, has launched an innovative new technology designed to help customers understand more about the Hovertravel experience and its current COVID precautions.
Lisa Hollyhead, CEO of Sight for Wight, explains: “as someone born with 88% sight loss, I have found the huge number of physical COVID secure changes made in, what were, very familiar surroundings, difficult to judge. I knew voice was the way to help resolve this but how to turn a poster into voice was the challenge. Lockdown allowed me to research to resolve this and “Hello Everyone” was born. Our audible QR codes provides audible guidance giving a basic layout, where to go and what to avoid in any building or environment.
As a regular user of Hovertravel, I approached them and described, from a visually impaired person’s point of view, how different the terminal was compared to my usual journey. They responded immediately and both terminals are now installed with the “Hello Everyone” QR Codes. Hovertravel now has an audible guide to help people through the terminal and onto the crafts using a simple voice.”
The system is based on the idea of utilising QR codes (two-dimensional barcode) which are scanned using the camera on a smartphone equipped with QR reader software. This software decodes the barcode to a URL and directs the phone’s browser to fetch an audio file from the Web that contains a verbal description of the environment. The information is expected to be useful in real-time interaction with customers who want to understand more about the Hovertravel experience.
Both terminals at Ryde and Southsea, the craft environment and the COVID-secure measures are all described in detail in the audio file, providing the Hovertravel passenger with an accessible layer of information about their surroundings.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, adds: “We were approached by the team at Sight for Wight with feedback about our service and this very simple but effective concept was suggested. Any smartphone will scan this QR code and then the customer presses play to listen.
Throughout this pandemic we have been keen to give customers confidence that Hovertravel is safe and secure, and this project is a valuable addition to our customer communications. We are very grateful to Sight for Wight’s suggestion and assistance in making this innovation a reality. It is another great example of two Island organisations working together for the good of all travellers.”
Sight for Wight also supports the families, friends & carers of visually impaired Isle of Wight residents. Membership is free to all Islanders affected by sight loss. For more details, please visit: https://www.sightforwight.org.uk/
Minister of State for Transport, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, has announced that Hovertravel has been awarded ‘Leader’ level in the Government’s Inclusive Transport Leaders Scheme. The Leader level is the top level of accreditation in the scheme, with Hovertravel being one of two companies recognised at this level, alongside Brighton & Hove Buses.
Accessibility Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: ”Our Inclusive Transport Leaders Scheme recognises operators which put disabled passengers at the heart of their service.
“I’m delighted that Hovertravel has secured the top accreditation as an organisation which takes great pride in providing accessible transport and helps give passengers confidence to travel.”
Hovertravel is the only marine transport operator and only ferry operator to be accredited in the scheme. Having launched HoverCare in 2016, the Isle of Wight ferry company has developed the initiative from a series of comprehensive internal training procedures into a company-wide approach which regularly shares best practice with other businesses.
Hovertravel has reached out to the communities on both sides of the Solent, hosting open days for different community action and special interest groups. These sessions provided valuable feedback for developing better procedures and enhanced facilities such as ‘quiet spaces’ as well giving individuals and their friends and families a first-hand guided experience on the hovercraft.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains: “Hovertravel is a strong champion for accessibility and we have made HoverCare part of our corporate DNA. All of my team passionately believe the excitement of a hovercraft flight should be accessible to all and we focus on engaging with our customers to help us achieve this aim. This accreditation also recognises our commitment to helping other companies with their own journey to becoming more accessible.“
Hovertravel has signed a deal to play Isle of Wight radio exclusively at both of its terminals. Hovertravel has terminals in Ryde and Southsea.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “The feedback from our customers was that they wanted local news, relevant to the area they were travelling to or from. Our visitors from further afield also enjoy the experience of local radio, giving them an insight into the community they are visiting.”
Isle of Wight Radio is the most listened to radio station on the Isle of Wight, reaching over 65%* of the adult Island population. An award winning station celebrating 30 years, Isle of Wight Radio has always focused on the news relevant to the people who live and work on the Island. This includes travel updates, competitions and an entertaining schedule of interactive programmes hosted by engaging presenters.
Claire John, Managing Director of Isle of Wight Radio, said “This partnership with Hovertravel allows Isle of Wight Radio to reach additional listeners and offer them a chance to hear the sound of the Island before they even cross the Solent. It also allows for our existing audience to keep listening to their favourite radio station as they wait to use the iconic hovercraft to travel to and from the island.”
*source // RAJAR/Ipsos-MORI/RSMB 12 Months Q1 2020/ 13wk FIGURES
Hovertravel has celebrated a partnership which has contributed significantly to the local community, by proudly displaying the logos of the NHS and Isle of Wight Ambulance on both its hovercraft.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, said: “Hovertravel is a unique business and our craft are photographed by travellers and onlookers every day. We wanted to celebrate partnership with two similarly iconic British heritage brands by including their logos in our livery.
Recent events have shown how companies can work together for the good of the community and our innovative partnership with the NHS to transfer stretcher patients across the Solent, whilst conceived during lockdown continues today, with almost 200 patients flown since March.”
Having established that Hovertravel’s Island Rescue service was the quickest option for stretcher patient transfer during the initial lockdown, the medical teams looked how this extension of their emergency service could be useful going forward.
The short crossing time means the ambulance crew are off-island for a much shorter time, as the organised patient handover to the South Central Ambulance Service at Hovertravel’s pad in Southsea means the IOW NHS Trust Ambulance Crew make an immediate return trip to the island. Over four hours per crossing are saved and this means the ambulance crew are once again available to help patients on the Island.
Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive at Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said:
“Our partnerships make us stronger and everyone at Isle of Wight NHS Trust is grateful to Hovertravel for its support during our response to COVID-19.
“It has been fantastic to see how our community has come together to meet the challenges of the last few months and the new livery is a powerful demonstration of how organisations can work together.”
The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport Awards for Excellence 2020 has announced Hovertravel as one of three finalists in their prestigious Passenger Transport category. Hovertravel submitted their innovative Island Rescue service, which is an ongoing partnership with the NHS to transfer patients from the Isle of Wight.
Kevin Richardson, Chief Executive, CILT(UK), said: “This year, transport, logistics and its associated supply chains have been thrown into the global spotlight. Through these very hard times, societies now have a greater appreciation of the importance and impact that our profession has on their daily lives and now, finally, our profession and those working within it are rightly regarded as essential key workers.
“It is important to us that we deliver these awards and celebrate together, face-to-face, when it is safe to do so. We believe March’s awards will be the perfect chance for us to celebrate those individuals and services that have proved so valuable and so important to the nation during this unprecedented time.”
Hovertravel has created a new way to transport patients across the Solent at any time of the day or night. Working with the Isle of Wight NHS Trust and the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service, Hovertravel is now able to carry stretchers to both Southsea and Southampton so patients can receive medical care at hospitals on the mainland and so expands the range of options available to the ambulance service.
Lorry Middleton won the public vote to become the nation’s tourism superstar earlier this year and last night Visit England organised a virtual awards event to recognise his outstanding achievement.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, says: “Lorry’s commitment to customer service is an example to us all and he is frequently mentioned by name in the feedback we receive from our customers. Everyone at Hovertravel is delighted that he has now been recognised by the UK public. The current circumstances have made the normal awards ceremony impossible so the virtual awards evening with a mixture of live streaming and pre-recorded videos provided the best opportunity for Lorry to be officially awarded.”
Hovertravel has also arranged for Lorry and a guest to visit The Rock Hotel in Gibraltar for a couple of days on an all-expenses paid VIP trip. The prestigious Rock Hotel, part of the Bland Group which also includes Hovertravel, was built in 1932 and is situated on the foothill of Gibraltar's famous rock with panoramic vistas of the Bay and Straits of Gibraltar as well as the Spanish mainland.
Will Myles, Managing Director of Visit Isle of Wight, adds: “The Visit England /Mirror Tourism Superstar Award for Hovertravel's Lorry Middleton is well deserved and it was absolutely clear from Lorry's acceptance at last night's Visit England Awards for Excellence why he was the front runner throughout the entire competition.
“I'd like to thank everyone who supported Lorry in the national vote - this year has been unlike any other, and I know that throughout this time, Lorry has not lost his happy demeanour, making him such an asset to Hovertravel and to tourism on the Isle of Wight.
“I hope Lorry enjoys his trip to Gibraltar, it really is very much deserved!”
Lorry won the Customer Service Superstar category at the Beautiful South Awards and was nominated for the Visit England National Tourism Superstar competition by Visit Isle of Wight at the start of this year. There were ten finalists from across the country competing to be the nation’s favourite and Lorry garnered over a third of the total vote.
Hovertravel has welcomed its first group visit with established coach operator Johnsons Coaches. Thanks to careful planning, the visit was conducted in accordance with all current COVID-secure guidelines being observed, giving the customers a private Hover Experience charter and several hours on the Isle of Wight.
Barry Cobb, Tours Manager, Johnsons Coaches explained: “This week we have recommenced our first day excursions since March! It has indeed been a very long road, but it is just simply wonderful to see our fantastic, loyal customers joining us again. We can think of no other finer way of celebrating this milestone than by sharing it with our friends at Hovertravel, who we have forged a great relationship with on their superb ‘VIP Hovercraft Experiences’ to the Isle of Wight. Throughout every step of the ‘re-opening’ process we have worked closely with them sharing our joint ‘Safe Operating Procedures’ to ensure the day runs smoothly and that everyone remains safe, secure and well whilst having a truly memorable day.
So, well done to the team at Hovertravel from everyone here at Johnsons for looking after our 32 passengers who travelled today, you’ve been GREAT, and we look forward to our next visit to you on the 19th August.”
Hovertravel is a sought-after experience for many coach operators, providing a unique flight across the Solent to visit the many attractions on the Isle of Wight. Hover Experience customers have their own private charter, complete with pilot commentary during demonstrations of the hovercraft’s capabilities and a detailed explanation of how the craft works.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, added: “It was very exciting to see Johnsons Coaches returning to Hovertravel. After all the essential lifeline travel we provided during lockdown, we are pleased to be offering a fun experience once again.”
Today Hovertravel is celebrating its 55th anniversary, having started operations on 24th July 1965.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, says: “We appreciate that many people had their 2020 birthday under very different circumstances and we wanted to make this anniversary a cause for celebration, by giving cakes to our staff.
Our engineers, ground staff, pilots and crew dedicate themselves every day to delivering the fastest and friendliest route across the Solent. Today is a cause for celebration for both the acknowledgement of our history and just as importantly to give confidence in the future. We look forward to many more happy returns.”
Hovertravel’s initial services ran between Ryde, Southsea and Stokes Bay in Gosport. Originally planned as a seasonal summer service over time the number of regular travellers and commuters grew to the extent that the year round service became viable and remains to this day.
Steve Attrill, Head of Marine Operations and pilot at Hovertravel, is the first of nine individuals to feature in Maritime UK’s Proudly Supporting Our Key Workers video.
Steve adds; “All of us at Hovertravel are extremely proud to have been operating a critical community service since the very start of lockdown, flying key workers and essential supplies across the Solent. I am just one member of a team which includes engineers, crew, ground staff and my pilot colleagues – all of whom dedicated themselves to maintain a safe and speedy lifeline link between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth.
We have seen cooperation on a local level with our fellow cross-Solent ferry firms and nationally the transport industry really stepped up to keep communities connected. It is a honour to be included in this key worker video.”
The two and half minute video features staff from Serco, Shoreham Port, Shetland Council, Bristol Port Company, Marine Craft Services and Trinity House, as well as two other ferry businesses: Northlink Ferries and Red Funnel. The video can be viewed here.
As part of the campaign celebrating key workers in the maritime sector, HRH the Princess Royal, Patron of Maritime UK thanked everyone working in the industry with her own video message which was released simultaneously with the key worker video.
Today Hovertravel has announced that from 4th July, its timetable will offer flights every thirty minutes. Hovertravel has continued to operate throughout lockdown, providing a critical community service and offering the only fast ferry option across the Solent, whilst carrying an extremely small proportion of its normal passengers.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, says: ”An important part of our risk-assessed approach is managing the capacity on our craft and we have been adding in ad hoc services to handle the slowly increasing demand as travel restrictions are relaxed. Following the lifting of lockdown next week, we expect to see more passengers and by strengthening our timetable, we can continue to give confidence to customers who wish to travel.”
By adding 16 flights to the weekday timetable, Hovertravel will be offering departures every half an hour from 0615 to 1930 from both Southsea and Ryde. The weekend timetable will benefit from an extra 22 flights, starting later at 0815 and also offering the thirty minute frequency through to 1930 from both sides of the Solent. It is also worth noting that the last flight from Ryde is 2015 and from Southsea is 2030, seven days a week.
Loretta adds: “Our priority has been, and always will be, the safety of our passengers and our people. By returning to a booked only service with a thirty minute frequency we are providing a measured and proportionate response to the anticipated increase in demand. Combining our established travel protocols and the customers’ positive compliance with face coverings, we are ready to play our role in the first steps to a responsible recovery for all Solent communities.”
Visit Britain’s 2020 Tourism Superstar and Hovertravel team member, Lorry Middleton has been proudly displaying Hovertravel’s official Visit Britain We’re Good to Go certification.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Who better than Lorry, voted by the Great British public as this year’s tourism superstar, to tell the world that Hovertravel has achieved this new certification. Hovertravel already had a robust safety-first culture and during this national emergency we used a rigorous risk assessment approach to develop protocols which protect our passengers and our people.
The We’re Good To Go standard further endorses our precautionary actions and gives customers even greater confidence that the Hovertravel experience can still be enjoyed as people start to travel more.”
We’re Good To Go is the official UK mark to signal that a tourism and hospitality business has worked hard to follow Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing. Visit Britain has seen over 4,800 applications for the new standard since its launch last week.
Loretta adds: “For those customers who are looking to venture across the Solent, they can see this quality mark and be re-assured that Hovertravel has been assessed to a nationally recognised industry standard.”
Hovertravel is using Armed Forces Day (Saturday 27th June) to say thank you to our armed forces.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We owe so much to our armed forces. Their work, past and present including during this time of crisis helps keep us safe. They are an inspiration to us all and they also represent the best of Britain, with a reputation which is envied around the world.”
From the start of lockdown we have carried military personnel across the Solent as key workers engaged in COVID-related projects for our communities. As the travel restrictions lift in the coming weeks, we look forward to welcoming both serving military and veterans looking for some well-earned R&R.”
Hovertravel has an ongoing 20% discount for all active armed forces through the Defence Discount card scheme here.
Hovertravel reverted to a booked service this week and selfless customers have been calling to give up their bookings for key workers.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel explains:, “The Hovertravel community has really stepped up in the last week with season and travel card customers getting in touch to offer their booked flights to key workers.
Some are telling us they can work from home or that they are reducing their commuting and wanted to be able to help out by giving up their booked seat to someone who needs to travel.”
To these customers, all of the key workers travelling, and us at Hovertravel, say thank you.”
Hovertravel is monitoring passenger volumes and is publishing a weekly update to indicate availability for the following week, allowing customers to avoid peak travel times.
Following the Government announcement delivered by the Transport Secretary, Hovertravel passengers must wear face coverings from Monday 15 June. The changes in the law require public transport operators to refuse travel for those who fail to wear a face covering.
Passengers using Hovertravel must wear their face coverings for their entire journey including: when entering and whilst in Hovertravel’s terminals, during boarding and disembarking the hovercraft, whilst on the hovercraft and on the hoverpads at Ryde and Southsea.
For more details on face coverings please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering
and to see how Hovertravel is protecting its customers and staff please visit:
Hovertravel is reminding all customers that from Monday 15 June, they must have a booked ticket and is showing passengers how to avoid the busier flights.
Neil Chapman, Hovertravel’s managing director said: "The first come, first served policy worked well with the limited volumes of regular travellers we carried over the past ten weeks but we now need to evolve our approach, whilst continuing to offer a fair system for all.
Our cooperation with Wightlink and Red Funnel requires us to treat all their customers equitably and to still have room to carry those key workers who are indispensable for the health and wellbeing of the Solent communities. Please use the simple form on our website to make your booking. To help you choose your flights, and avoid peak travel times, we will also be publishing a weekly update on our website to show how busy each crossing is for the following week.”
Detailed information on how to book flights is available online here, with further assistance accessible via a live chat facility on the website and the availability information can be seen on the timetables page.
Neil adds: “Our number one priority is, as it has been throughout this national emergency, the safety of our customers and staff. Hovertravel’s protocols, along with managing the capacity on our craft, are precautions to protect our passengers and our people and we ask all our customers to Hover responsibly.”
Following the Government announcement delivered by the Transport Secretary yesterday, Hovertravel passengers will be required to wear face coverings from Monday 15 June. The changes in the law, through legislation such as the National Rail Conditions of Travel and Public Service Vehicle Regulations, require public transport operators to refuse travel for those who fail to wear a face covering.
Passengers using Hovertravel will be required by law to wear their face coverings for their entire journey including:
- when entering and whilst in Hovertravel’s terminals at Southsea and Ryde,
- during boarding and disembarking the hovercraft,
- whilst on the hovercraft for the entire journey,
- on the hoverpads at Ryde and Southsea
Hovertravel passengers who do not wear face coverings will be refused travel. Exemptions to the rule include young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties.
The Government has introduced this new legal requirement to coincide with their next stage of carefully easing restrictions and to help reduce the risk of transmission on public transport when social distancing is not always possible.
Hovertravel will be providing increased signage in its terminals and updating its website with clear guidance over the next week. Hovertravel also asks that all customers bring their own face coverings ready to be worn during their journey so they comply fully with these mandatory Government instructions.
Hovertravel and the Wessex Cancer Trust are working together to reassure patients that the Daisy Bus is still operating and is ready to transport people safely to and from Hovertravel’s Southsea to the hospital.
Colette Cowan, Head of Service Delivery at The Wessex Cancer Trust, explains: “We are seeing lower numbers of cancer patients traveling, but our service continues for those that need it. Our drivers are friendly and understanding of people's concerns and would be glad to welcome more patients should they need it in the coming weeks.”
Wessex Cancer Trust’s Daisy Bus is available in Portsmouth and Southampton and would like to reassure patients that extra precautions are being put in place to ensure your journey is as low risk as possible. The bus is for patients and there is no need to book; the driver and the bus will be there to meet you at the Hovertravel terminal and transport you to the hospital, returning you to the terminal at the end of your treatment.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “We have seen the national trend of cancer patients travelling less for treatments due to the COVID crisis and wanted to make sure that Island residents know they can travel safely on our ten minute flights and meet up with the Daisy Bus in Southsea. We included both the trust and a current cancer patient in our recent Hovertravel Users Group Zoom meeting.”
If you have any queries you can call the Wessex Cancer Trust’s Isle of Wight helpline Monday to Thursday between 10am and 3pm on 01983 524186 or email email@example.com
About The Wessex Cancer Trust
Wessex Cancer Trust supports 11,000 people every year through its four cancer support centres which provide a drop-in service, professional counselling, complementary therapies, activities, support groups and courses. It also runs outreach services, popular Sing for Life choirs and transport on its Daisy Buses to help patients to get to their hospital appointments.
The River Test Distillery, Winner of ‘England’s BEST London Dry Gin’ (The World Gin Awards 2020), has donated hand sanitiser to Hovertravel for use by its own staff and the key workers using its critical community service.
The award-winning small batch gin distillery added hand sanitiser into its production cycle and has been donating to frontline and key workers in Hampshire including the air ambulance.
Chris Wood, Health & Safety Manager at Hovertravel, adds: “Although we are running a limited service every hour for key workers and those with an essential need to travel we are doing all we can to keep our staff and passengers safe. This, in turn, means ensuring that we have sufficient stock of hand sanitiser for both our terminals and the donation from Sarah and Jonathan at the River Test Distillery is most welcome.
This type of support demonstrates that the business community in Hampshire takes its responsibilities during this time very seriously and is contributing to the combined effort of the county to help out wherever possible.”
The team at The River Test Distillery followed the World Health Organisation’s recommended hand rub formulation, creating a hand sanitiser spray with an ethyl alcohol content of between 75-80%.
Hovertravel is keeping in touch with users of its critical community service by holding its user group meeting online. Hovertravel’s current passengers are key workers such as medical professionals, emergency service personnel and teachers of key workers, as well as patients travelling for medical treatment.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Our Hovertravel User Group has been an invaluable source of feedback since we introduced it over ten years ago. At times like these, passenger engagement is just as crucial so we invited representatives of our current users to come together for a Zoom call.“
Attended by Loretta, managing director Neil Chapman and duty manager Terri Frost, the meeting also included seven other participants representing NHS workers, fire services, cancer patients, teachers and people who are concerned about accessibility. The wide-ranging agenda covered the current critical community service, COVID precautions, the plans to keep customers safe as lockdown eases, Hovertravel’s Island Rescue initiative, the functionality of Hovertravel’s app and other aspects of the operation.
Minutes of the Hovertravel User group (HUG) meetings are published on Hovertravel’s website.
Last month, 1,050 tonnes of shingle were transported along the Southsea seafront in a recycling exercise that will reduce coastal erosion and limit the risk of flooding. The shingle – consisting of sand, small stones and gravel - was transported from the Hovertravel terminal in Southsea to the beach by the Southsea Naval Memorial.
The recycling exercise was arranged after the shingle was displaced along the Southsea coastline over the winter.
Organised by main contractor, VSBW (a joint venture between VolkerStevin and Boskalis Westminster), the relocation of the shingle offers a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution. As a result, the impact of the sea on the coastline will be reduced by the shingle which will absorb wave energy. After being loaded by excavator into dumper trucks, the shingle was transported back along the beach.
Chris Wood, facilities manager at Hovertravel, said: “The addition of shingle throughout the winter and especially after any storms can hinder our operation. At the moment key workers and vital supplies are carried on our Essential Lifeline timetable every day and during the summer we can operate flights as frequently as every 15 minutes.
By working with Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership and VSBW we now have a solution for excess shingle to be removed, clearing the view from our terminal on to the Solent and helping future neighbouring sea defences.”
Will Davies, project manager at VSBW, commented: “We were delighted to assist with the re-distribution of the shingle along the Southsea coastline, which will assist with strengthening coastal defences and protecting the natural landscape. We look forward to further reducing the risk of coastal erosion and flooding by delivering new defences for Southsea later this year.”
In 2019, VSBW was announced as the main contractor for the Southsea Coastal Scheme, which will provide £100m worth of flood protection to more than 8,000 properties and 704 businesses at risk along 4.5km of Solent coastline.
For more information about the Southsea Coastal Scheme, please click here.
Hovertravel is continuing to work closely with the NHS to further develop their Island Rescue service, which transfers patients from the Isle of Wight to hospitals in Portsmouth or Southampton.
A trial was arranged to see how a patient who needs to travel with extra medical equipment could be accommodated and a BBC TV crew was invited to film the trial as well as conduct interviews with the NHS intensive care nurses and Hovertravel’s Head of Marine Operations.
Steve Attrill, Hovertravel’s Head of Marine Operations, explains: “The patient and kit were loaded, and a full sea trial was conducted including some controlled manoeuvres including a full emergency stop. The hovercraft then floated whilst the NHS team ran through a simulated cardiac arrest on the dummy patient. Once back at Ryde a test patient evacuation from the secured stretcher through a side passenger cabin door on to the deck was conducted. All the feedback was highly positive.”
Hovertravel’s Island Rescue service was conceived during the current crisis, with Hovertravel operating a critical community service just for key workers and essential fast freight. The benefits seen by the Isle of Wight NHS Trust and its ambulance service are so significant, however, that the Island Rescue will be a permanent addition to Hovertravel’s operations.
The BBC South Today programme was broadcast on 01 May 2020.
When it comes to brightening up your day, Hovertravel’s Lorry Middleton is often quoted as the perfect tonic. Now it’s official, as he wins the Visit England/The Mirror Tourism Superstar 2020.
Lorry has been topping the polls since voting started in March and throughout the current climate, people have continued to put their support behind the Hovertravel favourite.
Nominated by Visit Isle of Wight in the nationwide search, Lorry saw off tough competition from 9 other finalists across England to be crowned the winner, taking an incredible 32% of the vote, ahead of Guy Rowland from Shropshire and Hayley Mullaney of the Cotswold Wildlife Park.
Even though the Coronavirus pandemic has seen a change to the normal pattern of work for Lorry, it hasn’t changed his sunny outlook one bit, and he was thrilled to hear that he had been named the nation’s favourite:
Lorry Middleton, Hovercraft Handling Agent at Hovertravel: ‘I am overwhelmed by the support and love people across the country have shown – thank you to everyone who voted. I have always thought of Hovertravel and the Isle of Wight as the best of British and this award is for all those people who work so hard to make a trip to the Island on our hovercraft a truly memorable visit.’
Will Myles, Managing Director at Visit Isle of Wight says:
‘We are thrilled that Lorry has been crowned Tourism Superstar and I must say a huge thank you to everyone who voted.
‘Anyone that has had the pleasure of meeting Lorry at Hovertravel will know that this award is very fitting and Lorry truly deserves to win it.
‘Alongside being voted the BBC Countryfile magazine UK Holiday Destination of the Year, this is a fantastic boost to an already amazing island tourism product and we look forward to welcoming our visitors back to the Isle of Wight when the time is right.’
Neil Chapman, Managing Director at Hovertravel, says the award is a tribute to Lorry:
‘Everyone at Hovertravel is so proud of Lorry; he was already a customer service legend and now he is a tourism superstar. Lorry embodies all that is great about Hovertravel and the Isle of Wight – he is friendly, helpful and engages every individual with a view to making their trip special. Even in the current situation he has been bringing a smile to the faces of the key workers travelling with us. Thank you, Lorry – you lift all our spirits.’
Visit England Director Andrew Stokes says: ‘Lorry Middleton has taken the title for his tireless enthusiasm ensuring every visitor to the Isle of Wight he meets is well briefed and ready for the visit of a lifetime. And now, more than ever, we must celebrate and acknowledge the human faces in tourism as we work together to get our industry back on its feet.’
England’s Tourism Superstar in 2018 was Red Funnel employee Jim O’Reilly. He and the Southampton based cross-Solent ferry firm put their weight firmly behind Lorry to win. Jim says: ‘I’m so pleased to see that great customer service to and from the Island has been recognised for the second time in the last 3 years. This great customer service and big welcome will be waiting for everyone when we come out the other side of the current situation – and we WILL be back! Enjoy the ride Lorry! Congratulations!’
The award comes just months after the Isle of Wight was named as the UK’s favourite holiday destination by readers of Countryfile Magazine, providing a double boost to the message that the Isle of Wight is an ideal place to spend time away.
Hovertravel has created a new way to transport patients across the Solent at any time of the day or night . Working with the ambulance service at Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Hovertravel is now able to carry stretchers to both Southsea and Southampton so patients can receive medical care at hospitals on the mainland and so expands the range of options available to the ambulance service.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains: “Our priority is our Essential LifeLine Timetable for key workers and crucial items of freight as these are critical for the communities on both sides of the Solent during the current crisis.
Helping the healthcare professionals on the island sparked an idea that Hovertravel could do more to help by transferring patients across the Solent and so thanks to ingenuity of our engineers in Ryde and the design expertise of our sister company, Griffon in Southampton, we can now deliver patients to Southsea in under ten minutes and to Southampton in under 40 minutes. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Marine & Coastguard Agency which pulled out all the stops to get this modification authorised as quickly as possible.”
Once the call is received from the ambulance service, the pilot and crew (all volunteers for out-of-hours flights) will prepare the hovercraft, which will only carry the patient and necessary NHS staff. The ambulance will be driven on to the pad at Ryde and the stretcher can be wheeled up the ramp into the craft.
Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive at Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said:
“The challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic are huge but the response of our local community and our Island partners has been fantastic.
“This Island Rescue service is great news for our patients and helps the NHS to keep working to protect our local community.
“It will cut down journey times, helping to make sure that the most unwell patients can get to hospital as quickly as possible and it will free up members of our ambulance service by reducing the number of staff and vehicles needed to transfer patients to the mainland.”
“Alongside the Essential LifeLine Timetable, the Island Rescue Service is a significant boost to the local NHS.”
The luggage and freight area at the front of the hovercraft will be used to transport the patient and the stretcher, plus any additional equipment, which are secured by straps to a series of newly installed locking points.
Adrian Went, Managing Director of Griffon Hoverwork Ltd said: “Griffon’s world-leading team of design engineers developed the modification from the joint requirements of Hovertravel and the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service to include the loading and securing arrangements. These, with the underlying aluminium structure, were analysed to check that they are safe to transport the ambulance’s stretcher trolleys, patients and attending ambulance crew. All the arrangements are fully compliant with the rigorous requirements of the International Maritime Organisation’s High Speed Craft Code. The whole system was demonstrated in practical trials on 4th April and subsequently approved by both the UK’s National Health Service and the local hovercraft safety experts at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in an exceptionally short time.”
The hovercraft will land at either Southsea or at a temporary pad on the Itchen River and the patient will be transferred from the craft into a waiting ambulance and on to hospital. There have been several trials of the service, including a flight to the temporary pad at Southampton last Saturday, all conducted under the scrutiny of both Hovertravel’s Head of Marine Operations, Steve Attrill and the ambulance service.
Bob Seely, MP adds: “This innovative use of the hovercraft to support the Island’s ambulance service shows the need for fast and reliable transport links for our community. I welcome the partnership between Hovertravel and the NHS. This will save hours taking patients to the mainland and lighten the load on our ambulance service. Now more than ever, we need to deploy our medical resources as efficiently as possible. We’ll get through this crisis by working together and I support Hovertravel’s Island Rescue initiative.”
From Saturday 18th April Hovertravel will reduce its weekend timetable and offer departures every two hours from 0815 from Ryde until 1830 from Southsea. This critical community service will be the only fast ferry for key workers and time-sensitive supplies needing to travel between the isle of Wight and the mainland.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, adds: “All three ferry firms are co-ordinating their efforts through the Isle of Wight Transport Infrastructure Board to maintain a resilient set of links for essential travel to the island through these challenging times. Following the temporary suspensions of other ferry routes and our own reduced weekend timetable, we all agree that we are now at the lowest possible level of services necessary to support the Isle of Wight.
We are promoting the Stay At Home message and have seen a huge reduction in passenger volumes at the weekends, so we are focussing our resources on running the only fast ferry option for essential travellers and fast freight with an hourly weekday timetable and a two hourly weekend timetable.”
Hovertravel is accepting tickets from Red Funnel as well as those from Wightlink and continues to serve both the NHS and the Royal Mail with its fast freight service.
Hovertravel’s weekday Essential Lifetime timetable remains unchanged and can be viewed at: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/timetables/
The Isle of Wight Gin Distillery is using Hovertravel to speed its Wight Wash hand sanitiser across the Solent. With the distillery using its equipment to produce the gel on an entirely not for profit basis, it has used Hovertravel’s fast freight service to supply the NHS Solent Trust.
Chris Wood, Health & Safety Manager at Hovertravel, explains: “Hats off to the Isle of Wight Gin Distillery who switched production very quickly for the benefit of communities on the island and in Portsmouth.
In a great example of Island businesses working together to support the wider community, we are able to get the hand sanitiser, still in very short supply across the country, to where it is needed most.
As well as making sure this much in-demand product gets delivered quickly, we have also be using the gel for our staff in our terminals, helping to protect them and the key workers who need to travel with us.”
Hovertravel will continue to operate its Essential Lifeline timetable on Good Friday and Easter Monday, maintaining a Critical Community Service which is transporting key workers, including emergency services, and vital supplies across the Solent.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Under normal circumstances Hovertravel would operate a reduced service on all bank holidays but our engineers, pilots and crew are keen to keep this essential lifeline open, appreciating that key workers will be working their shifts on these days.
Good Friday and Easter Monday will, therefore, have the same number of flights as the other weekdays in the current timetable. We remind everyone that they should stay at home and only travel with Hovertravel if their journey is absolutely necessary. Our Essential Lifeline Timetable is for key workers and vital supplies only.”
Hovertravel’s Essential Lifeline Timetable on Good Friday and Easter Monday will include the following flights: 0615 from Ryde, 0630 from Southsea, 0715 from Ryde 0730 from Southsea, 0815 from Ryde & 0830 from Southsea. Flights on Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday remain unchanged.
Key workers and anyone looking to transport vital supplies can view Hovertravel’s Essential Lifeline Timetable here
Following the announcement that Wightlink is suspending the Fast Cat from Ryde Pier until further notice, Hovertravel is introducing ticket acceptance for all customers, preserving a fast ferry option between Ryde and Portsmouth.
With the backing of its allied transport operators through the Isle of Wight Transport Infrastructure Board, Wightlink announced earlier today that their Fast Cat service from Ryde Pier to Portsmouth will be suspended from the last sailing on Monday 6 April 2020.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, said: “All the ferries are dedicated to keep key workers and vital supplies flowing to the Island. By co-operating we are, together, maintaining robust and resilient links which can sustain the Island through these challenging times.
We appreciate and sympathise with the difficult decisions Wightlink is making, and we are offering our full support to a fellow ferry operator and our close neighbour in Ryde.”
Essential travellers, including key workers, who have pre-booked with Wightlink (including season card holders) will be able to use Hovertravel services, with no additional fare payable and will also be able to use the HoverBus for onward connections within Portsmouth. In addition, if required due to adverse weather conditions, Hovertravel tickets will be accepted at Wightlink’s Portsmouth‐Fishbourne car ferry.
Neil adds: “Ticket acceptance between operators is commonplace amongst rail companies and by deploying such measures here for cross Solent travel, we are demonstrating that all ferry operators are united in their mission to ensure the Isle of Wight remains connected.”
Hovertravel’s HoverBus timetable has been revised to match the hovercraft’s new hourly timetable, ensuring that customers can transfer directly from the craft on to the HoverBus, which will be waiting for each arrival outside the Southsea terminal.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “Hovertravel has a critical role to play in keeping key workers moving across the Solent as they provide much needed services to the general population, and ensuring the HoverBus remains an integral part of their essential travel is vital.“
Stagecoach, which facilitates the HoverBus service, already has well-established and rigorous cleaning regimes for their buses and is continuing to enhance the measures in place in response to the developing situation with more regular cleaning of the main customer touch-points such as hand poles and grab rails. The new timetable has taken into account the extra time required for the driver to clean the bus between each circuit.
Please visit https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/hoverbus/ for more details.
Following the Prime Minister’s statement that transport is “important for the delivery of crucial public services”, Hovertravel is today announcing a new timetable which keeps an essential transport link open.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains: “We are carrying key workers between the Isle of Wight and the mainland, as well ensuring vital supplies of medicines and the Royal Mail continue to flow across the Solent.
To ensure we continue to offer a robust and resilient transport service, we have, today, taken decisive action to firstly amend our timetable to an hourly service, starting from Ryde at 0615 with a last craft from Southsea at 1930, to help these essential travellers get to where they are most needed.
Secondly, we have introduced, thanks to staff volunteers, a new on-demand hovercraft facility which will assist stakeholders to transport key workers or critical supplies at any time of the day or night. At all times and with each of these announcements we fully considered the safety and well-being of our customers and our staff. I would also like to acknowledge the wholehearted commitment of everyone at Hovertravel working to maintain our lifeline link across the Solent. ”
Hovertravel’s new timetable will be operational from 0615 Tuesday 24 March 2020 until further notice and can be viewed here: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/timetables/. For customers who are booked to travel, including season and travel card holders, and need to change their booking due to the new timetable, Hovertravel has a simple process to transfer bookings to a different service, extend travel periods or put a booking on hold for the future: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/more-info/hoverflexibility/
Hovertravel has configured its operations with volunteer staff to have a craft ready to depart within 30 minutes during operating hours and in 60 minutes outside of operating hours, with just one phone call. Hovertravel has already offered this 24/7 critical on-demand service to several key stakeholders and any other organisation which needs transport either to or from the Isle of Wight can apply online here: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/more-info/stakeholder-freight/
All passengers using Hovertravel are being asked to observe Public Health England’s social distancing rules which state: “Coronaviruses can be spread when people with the virus have close, sustained contact with people who are not infected. This typically means spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of an infected person”. Hovertravel staff will ask passengers to remain two metres from their fellow travellers in the terminals and whilst getting on and off the craft for the ten-minute journey.
Hovertravel has announced some temporary changes to its usual terms and conditions to help customers at this challenging time.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We fully appreciate that customers’ plans are subject to change, due to the current rapidly developing situation and we have updated our policies to provide our customers the most flexibility we can offer with the opportunity to re-book their travel to a later date, without penalty.”
Hovertravel has a dedicated page on its website, with a simple online form which customers can complete to either re-book or alternatively to keep their booking open until they wish to confirm their new date of travel. Please visit https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/more-info/hoverflexibility/ for more information.
Hovertravel’s website also has a regularly updated page, https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/more-info/hoverflexibility/ , describing how Hovertravel is taking precautions to protect staff and customers and keep flying across the Solent.
Voting has opened for the England’s Tourism Superstar with Hovertravel’s Lorry Middleton is in the running. The shortlist for Visit England and the Mirror newspaper’s Tourism Superstar 2020 includes just ten candidates vying to be the winner of the public vote.
Lorry Middleton is a firm favourite with visitors to the Isle of Wight and regulars who make the crossing between Southsea and Ryde on the world’s only year-round passenger hovercraft service.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Voting has opened, and our Team Lorry campaign starts today, having already received huge encouragement from businesses and individuals across the Isle of Wight and beyond. We are encouraging all our customers to support Lorry by visiting Mirror’s travel pages on their website to cast their vote.”
Hovertravel is working with Walking Angels, described as the Isle of Wight's hub supporting Island Care Workers and those who need care in the community, to provide discounted travel across the Solent to their members.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, said: “We are proud to be an active member of the island community and supporting carers through Walking Angels will make it easier for them to travel across the Solent. “
Hovertravel is joining 35 island businesses offering discounts via the Walking Angels affiliate scheme. The Walking Angels membership programme offers all Isle of Wight care workers, Healthcare Assistants and Personal Assistants the opportunity to join a caring community, whether they work for an organisation, are self-employed or are a full-time carer for a relative.
Andy Hibbert, Operations Director at Walking Angels, added: “We have teamed up with many Island businesses supporting this worthy service to offer exclusive discounts as, like us, they recognise that a care worker’s health and wellbeing is paramount.”
Hovertravel has won the Corporate Social Responsibility Award at the Portsmouth Business Excellence Awards. This is the first time that Hovertravel has entered these awards, so the team is especially proud to have their work with their HoverCare initiative recognised by such an established awards scheme.
Head of Marine Operations at Hovertravel, Steve Attrill, collected the award and said: “We are very excited to receive this recognition for HoverCare. We are passionate about accessibility and this award belongs to everyone at Hovertravel. As a business we have invested in training and additional facilities, but it is our staff who deliver the customer experience.”
Competition for the award was fierce with many other deserving local businesses in contention. Following a strict judging and interview process including an onsite visit, overseen by event sponsors BAE Systems and Trethowans Solicitors, the judges were impressed by the dedication of the staff to make hovercraft flights accessible for all.
For more information on HoverCare, visit https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/hovercare-travel-scheme/
Hovertravel has launched its Isle of Wight Food & Drink brochure to celebrate the culinary credentials of the Isle of Wight.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “Food is a major part of travel and the Isle of Wight has award-winning producers of both food and drink. This new brochure has been created under our Hover Explore banner which aims to highlight the best experiences available via our hovercraft flights. With our special combination bus+train tickets visitors can leave the car at home and enjoy the full range of tasty treats and tipples on offer.”
The new brochure provides information on opening times, instructions on how to get to the listed locations, itinerary ideas and a map to help visitors plan their time on the island. There are a broad range of places to visit from the Isle of Wight Distillery to diary and garlic farms as well as the chance to try the best dressed crab. Information on where to buy local produce and a couple of great value meal deals are also included.
Foodies and anyone looking for a different flavour to their Isle of Wight day trip can pick up the new brochures at Hovertravel’s terminals in Southsea and Ryde.
For the second time in two years, an Isle of Wight employee has been recognised for their outstanding work in welcoming visitors – and we’re being asked to get behind him!
The shortlist for Visit England and the Mirror newspaper’s Tourism Superstar 2020 has been announced – and a Hovertravel employee is among those recognised. Lorry Middleton is shortlisted as a Tourism Superstar for his passion in his job and for the Isle of Wight as a destination, offering advice and suggestions for those visiting the UK’s number one holiday island. It is now down to a public vote to decide the winner.
Visit Isle of Wight nominated Lorry for the Visit England/Mirror Tourism Superstar awards. Will Myles, MD at Visit Isle of Wight says he is delighted: It’s an achievement in itself that Lorry has been shortlisted by Visit England for this accolade. It’s now down to us as people on the Island, as friends and family to get the votes in place for Lorry so he can be Visit England’s Tourism Superstar.’
Neil Chapman, MD at Hovertravel says: ‘All of us at Hovertravel are incredibly proud of Lorry today. I think all the effort that he puts into his job has been acknowledged whole heartedly through this awards process and we’re are delighted for him.’
Lorry adds that coming to work each day is a pleasure: ‘The people that I work with are absolutely fantastic, the craft is exciting, watching it pull up each morning, the commuters turn up, the school kids, the daily traveller and they want to know about the island, what bus. I had one yesterday that came all the way from Texas and she wanted to go to a place I’ve never been to on the island, but it was getting there that was the logistical challenge.’
Now Lorry is up against nine potential winners from around the country including Plymouth, London and Blackpool. It is the public vote which will decide who will take the crown of Tourism Superstar.
When asked why people should vote for him, Lorry adds: ‘If people like me and they remember me for looking after them and helping them, then that’s what I’d like to be voted for. I’d like to be voted for the fact that I do a good job, or try to do a good job, and that I try to look after people.’
Voting for the Visit England and Mirror Travel Tourism Superstar opens March 7 and the winner will be announced on Saturday April 25, during English Tourism Week.
Hovertravel’s User Group (HUG) is announcing two new events for 2020, planned for April and September.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “As we continue in our quest to create a user group which represents our customers accurately, we are exploring additional new ways to engage with our stakeholders. For 2020 we are taking the HUG on the water with two evening events which will allow customers to ask questions and float new ideas.”
There are 40 places on each of the two events, planned for 27 April and 16 September, open to anyone who would like to attend and who has a question which will benefit other customers. Questions will need to be submitted via Hovertravel’s website in advance and answers will be provided during the 20-minute private charter flight by a team of Hovertravel staff.
Loretta continues: “We will have representatives from our commercial, operations, finance and engineering departments onboard to answer your questions. We already engage on daily basis with customers in person, on the phone, via email and through our social media networks, answering a very broad range of questions. The new HUG events will provide an opportunity for customers to enjoy our hospitality and have their queries answered in an informal setting.”
If you are interested in attending either of the HUG on the water events, please submit your question here: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/hover-user-group/
Hovertravel’s accessibility initiative, HoverCare, has been chosen by the UK Government as a case study to provide guidance on the just launched Inclusive Transport Leaders Scheme which aims to improve transport for disabled people.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, adds: “We have been working with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the Department for Transport, explaining how we implemented our HoverCare initiative. To be highlighted as a case study and featured on the Government’s website demonstrates that HoverCare is a world-class, industry leading scheme which is changing the perception and reality of how accessible today’s transport can be.”
HoverCare is a service for any Hovertravel customer requiring assistance with their travel whether they have reduced mobility requirements or just need a little extra help with their journey. The initiative has been recognised with finalist positions and commendations across several national awards schemes.
Hovertravel is committed to ensure access and travel on its hovercraft, in its terminals and during all elements of the journey from start to finish, are as comfortable and safe as possible.
For more information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/hovercare-ambassadors-put-accessibility-at-the-forefront-of-customer-service
Hovertravel has hosted the first wave of new Visit Isle of Wight Travel Ambassadors to start their induction and provide more information about their role.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We are working closely with the team at Visit Isle of Wight to encourage and support Travel Ambassadors. Based at the Southsea Hovertravel terminal, the volunteers will be meeting and greeting visitors and telling them all about the things to do and see on the Isle of Wight. We hope that by providing marketing materials packed with ideas these visitors will be inspired to keep coming back for more.”
The ambassadors met Martyn Percival, Hovertravel’s head of ground operations, Hovertravel pilot, Peter Mulhern and Hovertravel team leader, Kerry Wherry. The Visit Isle of Wight team was also available and answered several questions, explaining that there was no need for specialist training, the hours were at each volunteer’s discretion and the only qualifications were an enthusiastic and positive approach to promoting the Isle of Wight as the perfect place for a holiday or short break.
You can still apply to become a Travel Ambassador here by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua Sheekey, a Hovercraft Handling Agent at Hovertravel, has achieved the Star Award for customer service, in Havant & South Downs College’s Apprenticeship Star Awards 2020.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We fully support any awards which recognise the achievements of apprentices and the Star Awards organised by Havant & South Downs College are a perfect opportunity to celebrate apprentices across the region.
Josh is bright, cheerful and friendly, he truly embodies our value of friendliness and takes time to engage with our customers. We are delighted to see him awarded this accolade and are proud to have him on our team.”
The Apprenticeship Star Awards raise the profile of apprentices from a variety of organisations in south Hampshire, ensuring that the individuals and the work they do is highlighted. The ceremony was hosted by Mike Gaston, Principal of Havant & South Downs College and included guest speakers from Fullers and Formaplex alongside the MP for Havant, Alan Mak.
Hovertravel is offering free colouring sheets and crayons for children travelling this half-term.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “Children love to colour and this activity has been found to have a variety of developmental benefits such as hand-eye co-ordination, fine motor skills, colour recognition as well as being an outlet for creative expression. We created a simple line drawing of our hovercraft flying across the Solent, giving plenty of scope for artistic colouring. We may even feature some examples on our social networks if proud parents are happy to photograph and send them to us.”
Hovertravel flies from Southsea to Ryde in less than ten minutes and passengers are asked to be at the terminal ten minutes prior to departure. “However,” as Loretta explains, “we wanted our younger customers to take these sheets and colour when they get time, hopefully keeping their artwork as a free memento of their exciting flight on a hovercraft.”
The colouring sheets and crayons are available free in both Ryde and Southsea terminals from today.
Launched just in time for Valentine’s Day, Hovertravel has, today, revealed a new experience available to visitors to the Isle of Wight. Teaming the truly iconic hovercraft with possibly the ultimate holiday transport, a tuk tuk, this romantic ticket to Ryde is perfect for couples.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “The two-seater tuk tuk is an excellent add-on to our speedy Solent flight, perfect for couples who want a cosy tour of Ryde and the chance to snuggle under a blanket. Launching a few days before February 14th, when love is always in the air, will attract attention from anyone who wants to treat their partner to the newest Isle of Wight experience.”
Working with the Isle of Wight Tuk Tuk Company which will offer a choice of either 10 or 20 minute guided tours along Ryde seafront and Appley Beach, Hovertravel is taking booking online at https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/events-attractions/isle-of-wight-attractions/isle-of-wight-tuk-tuk-tours/ or via the phone on 01983 717700.
Hovertravel has been promoting the benefits of apprenticeships to school children as part of Shaping Portsmouth’s highly successful initiative to showcase the apprenticeship experience to local schools during National Apprenticeship Week.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Our commercial team has three apprentices and we sent one of them, Dean, to join in with Shaping Portsmouth’s Apprenticeship Bus tour of senior schools in Portsmouth. The children at each of the schools get real and valuable time with current apprentices who are able to explain all the elements of their jobs, opportunities and experiences. Feedback from the schools has shown that the students appreciate the opportunity to speak to those who are currently undergoing an apprenticeship and studying at different levels.”
In its third year, the Apprenticeship Bus tour will visit 12 schools over two days this week, thanks to the ongoing support of Stagecoach which has been involved since 2018. National Apprenticeship Week 2020 takes place 3 to 9 February 2020. This annual celebration of apprenticeships brings the whole apprenticeship community together to celebrate the impact of apprenticeships on individuals, employers and the economy.
Tuesday 4th February’s episode of Sir David Jason’s current TV documentary series features the much-loved actor visiting Hovertravel at Ryde. Entitled David Jason’s Great British Inventions, the next show will be broadcast at 9pm on More4.
Hovertravel’s Fleet Captain, Steve Atrill, explains: “We were honoured to host an actor who has made so many of us laugh throughout his career and his interest in our hovercraft came from an informed and genuine passion for British engineering. We arranged a special trip for Sir David so we could explain the technology which powers our craft, giving him and the viewers some insight into the current world of passenger hovercraft operations.”
Sir David and the film crew from Wise Owl Films visited Hovertravel last year to capture the actor meeting the pilots and engineers who keep the craft flying. He was shown around one of the hovercraft by Hovertravel’s Fleet Captain and given a demonstration of its extreme manoeuvrability and marine capabilities.
In this series Sir David Jason explores his favourite great British inventions and discovers how and why they were first created. So far he has looked at the evolution of the wheel, driven a Reliant Regal Supervan (invoking great memories) and explored the lives of the Britons who helped make flight a reality for humans.
Hovertravel has been proudly displaying its Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in its terminals and onboard its craft. With a score of 4.5 stars from 728 reviews, Hovertravel has maintained its reputation as an exceptional experience with outstanding customer service.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “We welcome all feedback and are grateful to all those customers who take the time to give us a review. It obviously helps the millions of other Trip Advisor users but also helps us to learn and we share the comments across all our teams. Alongside delivering the reliability, punctuality and onboard experience of our flights, we aim to exceed the customers’ expectations in terms of being a friendly, accessible service. Many of our reviews praise our staff and their polite, helpful attitude.”
Hovertravel is the world’s only year-round passenger hovercraft service and independent sites like Trip Advisor help to provide extra information about the experience. With a large proportion of international visitors and customers who wish to tick a hovercraft flight off their bucket lists, Hovertravel encourages its customers to share as much detail about their experience as possible.
Hovertravel’s popular Travel & Attractions Guide for Winter/Spring 2020 is now available. This handy guide has been created so that customers can enjoy the very best experiences on offer on both sides of the Solent.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, says: “Our customers, whether local or from around the globe, are looking for information about experiences on the Isle of Wight, as well as in Portsmouth and beyond. So, although their trip might start with a flight on the world’s only year-round passenger hovercraft, we appreciate that we are only just one part of their trip.
We have arranged great value discounts with attractions, transport options and hotels to offer a broad range of combination deals. We know that as well as helping our customers plan their trip, our seasonal guides also encourage future visits.”
Hovertravel’s combination deals give the customer a cheaper overall price, than if they purchased their hovercraft ticket and attraction entrance, hotel accommodation or meal separately. More details on Hovertravel’s fares and Winter 2020 timetable can also be found in The Travel & Attractions Guide for Winter/Spring 2020 which is available at Hovertravel’s Ryde and Southsea terminals.
Students can now take advantage of Hovertravel’s online offers by booking online and get their discount applied automatically.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Previously our student customers would visit one of our terminals with their NUS card to buy their tickets with many of them travelling on the same day. We wanted to extend the student discount to customers planning ahead as well as those who cannot visit us prior to travelling. Booking online is simple, quick and provides an email confirmation.”
Hovertravel staff may ask to see students’ National Union of Students (NUS) cards at the boarding gate. The excitement of flying across the Solent attracts students from the local colleges, and universities in Portsmouth and Southampton, as well as appealing to international students traveling for their studies or on gap years. Students visiting the Isle of Wight can also get discounts on Southern Vectis, Island Line trains and even on their entrance ticket to Queen Victoria’s holiday home on the island; Osborne House.
Whether feasting at one of the 27 Chinese restaurants on the Isle of Wight or enjoying the performances from the Shaolin Temple at Gunwharf Wharf Quays, against the backdrop of the Emirates Spinnaker Tower turning red, Hovertravel is the fastest ferry to get you to the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Many restaurants like the Royal China in Sandown will be celebrating from this weekend, with special menus and extra promotions to commemorate the start of the Year of the Rat. The colour red will have special significance, not just because Portsmouth’s skyline will be dominated by a red Spinnaker Tower for the 1st and 2nd February, but also because Gunwharf Quays will be handing out lucky red envelopes, containing exclusive discount vouchers to use across stores throughout the centre.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “Celebrating the start of the Lunar New Year is becoming more popular and with events spread over at least a couple of weeks, there is something for everyone from a simple takeaway to a day out. With a flight time of under ten minutes, Hovertravel is the speediest way to get started on welcoming in the Year of the Rat.”
Hovertravel has been named as a finalist for this year’s Business Excellence Awards hosted by The Portsmouth News. The awards, now in its nineteenth year, celebrates businesses who have shown exceptional growth, innovation or an outstanding contribution to the community in which it operates.
Hovertravel is shortlisted for the Company Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative of the Year category where the judges are looking for a project which helps improve peoples’ lives and enhances the relationship between the company and the local community.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “We are proud to be a vital transport link in Portsmouth, flying over the Solent for more than 50 years, and we are always looking for ways in which we can enhance our service to the benefit of all.
We want everyone to be confident that they can enjoy a flight on our hovercraft and that our team can provide as much or as little assistance as required. We have invested resources into specialist training, themed open days and additional facilities so that we can serve the diverse needs of our customers.
Being shortlisted for this award demonstrates the dedication of our staff in their ongoing efforts to ensure that our customers receive the best possible service.”
The winners of the Business Excellence Awards will be announced during the award ceremony at Portsmouth Guildhall on Friday 21 February 2020.
On Winnie the Pooh Day (Saturday 18 January – birthday of the author; A A Milne), children who bring either their own teddy bear or Winnie the Pooh memorabilia will travel free with Hovertravel, along with one fare paying adult.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “We know that A A Milne did his basic training on the Isle of Wight before joining Royal Warwickshire Regiment long before you could cross the Solent on a hovercraft. We are sure, however, that Pooh would have very much enjoyed the thrilling experience of a flight on our craft and we wanted to celebrate this very famous bear with a themed promotion.”
The creator of Winnie the Pooh spent some time on the Isle of Wight, initially at the beginning of 1915 in Freshwater and then in Sandown, where he was joined by his wife until called to war in July 1916. He returned in 1917, briefly to Sandown and for a three-week convalescence at Osborne House, recovering from trench fever.
Fans who wish to see the inspiration for the Hundred Acre Wood, however, will have to travel to East Sussex, to visit Ashdown Forest. There is opportunity to also see Pooh Corner and enjoy Piglet’s Tea Rooms, both situated on the edge of the forest.
This offer can only be booked at Hovertravel’s Ryde or Southsea terminals at the time of travel and not in advance, online or over the phone.
Hovertravel has been shortlisted for a major national travel award; and one of the tourism sector’s most sought-after accolades.
Following a very competitive nominations stage for the UKinbound Awards for Excellence 2019, a shortlist has been selected by an independent panel of judges comprising Susan Deer, Association of British Travel Agents; Patrick Richards, European Tour Operators Association; and Dr Karen Thomas, Canterbury Christ Church University. Voting is now open for members to select the final winners, and the results will be announced at the Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner at Annual Convention 2020 on 5th February at the Aerospace Bristol.
Hovertravel, which entered the awards for the first time, is one of three finalists in the Transport Provider of the Year category and is delighted to be acknowledged for its contribution to British tourism.
Hovertravel’s Head of Commercial, Loretta Lale, adds: “We’re really pleased to be recognised by UKinbound and the panel of distinguished judges. The whole team here really understands how important it is to make flying on a hovercraft as appealing as possible for visitors from around the globe. As the only year-round commercial passenger hovercraft service in the world, Hovertravel is an ongoing fixture on the bucket list of many international visitors to the UK.”
Hovertravel has announced the appointment of three new apprentices, all working within the commercial team. The new recruits will have responsibility for helping to drive enhanced customer engagement, to extend Hovertravel’s successful e-commerce activities and to support the growth of the company’s groups business.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, said: “Sophie, Ollie and Dean have already proved their worth to the business, by helping us to better engage our customers over the busy festive season – in person, on the phone and online. We have strengthened our commercial resources for 2020 to ensure that we build on the unique appeal of our hovercraft for our customers around the globe and on both sides of the Solent.”
Hovertravel is a long-term supporter of apprentices, with nine current employees who progressed from an apprenticeship to a permanent job. Alongside their existing relationship with Highbury College for the finance and engineering departments, Hovertravel has developed a new relationship with South Downs College to create apprenticeship programme for Hovertravel Handling Agents.
Hovertravel welcomed the VIP of the season today, when Santa paid a flying visit to their Ryde terminal, stopping briefly to hand out chocolates to customers. Following his advance team of elves who were working at both Hovertravel terminals over the weekend, Mr Claus was a welcome sight for everyone crossing the Solent this morning.
Mr Claus added: “Today is obviously one of my busiest days of the year, so I could only afford the time for a very quick trip to Hovertravel. It was fabulous to see the staff dressed up in their Christmas costumes, there were several elves and even a Christmas Tree!”
Hovertravel has offered a fun-filled round-up to Christmas Day with free presents for children, staff dressed up in seasonal outfits and several charitable initiatives for the communities on both sides of the Solent.
Hovertravel and its customers have donated hundreds of items to HIVE today, just in time for Christmas. Hovertravel handed over the trolley load at the Southsea terminal.
Hovertravel’s Managing Director, Neil Chapman said: "We have been collecting food and toiletries in our trolley in the terminal for the last week and our customers have been very generous. We wanted to give our community, including our staff and passengers, the opportunity to donate whatever they can.”
HIVE Chair Rev Bob White added: “The HIVE Portsmouth is delighted to support the distribution of this amazing collection organised by Hovertravel, we will ensure through our networks that the contributions go to where they are most needed across a variety of organisations supporting the most vulnerable in Portsmouth. The more that organisations and individuals work together and share their resources the more we can do to show the huge generosity and desire to help others which exists in our community.”
HIVE Portsmouth is a collective of organisations dedicated to building stronger, more connected communities across the city. More information can be found here: https://www.hiveportsmouth.com/
Hovertravel, the fastest Isle of Wight passenger service across the Solent, is operating on Christmas Eve until 1900 from Southsea.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We have always tried to balance the demand from our customers with the wishes of our staff, who obviously want to spend time with their families over the festive period. Our customers asked for extra evening flights in the run-up to Christmas, so we added a later flight at 2200 on Thursdays in December and over the next two weeks our timetable has been designed to offer services when they are needed.”
On Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Hovertravel will be closed and there will be no hovercraft service. After Christmas, Hovertravel will be operating again from 27 December whilst on New Year’s Eve the last departure from Ryde will be at 1845 and from Southsea at 1900.
For customers wishing to start the New Year with a quick flight across the Solent, Hovertravel will start operating from Ryde at 0915.
Lorry Middleton has been awarded the Gold award in the Customer Service Superstar category of the Beautiful South Awards; announced last night at the finals at The Grand Hotel in Brighton.
In awarding Lorry, the top award, the Judges said: “It is simply that his commitment to the customer is his highest priority.”
Lorry’s customer service is legendary amongst Hovertravel customers, with his name being the most frequently mentioned by passengers providing positive feedback. He makes sure that customers are comfortable and confident about all the stages of their journey, even the onward transport and travel details.
Lorry added: “I’m just a small cog who’s got an amazing award for customer service, but it’s thanks to the team and everyone’s hard work at Hovertravel that’s allowed me to have this award.”
The Beautiful South Awards celebrate excellence in tourism across the South East. They aim to promote and reward businesses and individuals in the tourism industry, whatever their sector and size. They are independently judged, and all entrants receive feedback. This Gold award means that Lorry will automatically be put forward for the National Tourism Superstar Awards run by the Mirror and Visit England.
Hovertravel has added extra late services on Thursdays in December to help people who want to take advantage of the later opening hours on the weeks running up to Christmas. There will be an extra flight at 2145 from Ryde and 2200 from Southsea on the 12th and 19th of December.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, says: “Our customers have told us how busy this time of year is and that they would like a little extra time before catching the last hover home, so we have extended our service later into the evening. Also, as our customers know, our staff are always ready to help carry your bags on and off our hovercraft with a seasonal smile.”
Both in Portsmouth, with the premium outlet Gunwharf Quays and the quirky, independent shops available in Southsea, and with the different retail venues on the Isle of Wight such as the Garlic Farm and the Isle of Wight Distillery, there are plenty of opportunities for Christmas shopping.
There are also many other seasonal activities on both sides of Solent such as ice-skating at the Guildhall in Portsmouth or carols at The Round Tower, Cathedral and Kings Theatre. The Isle of Wight has excellent festive-themed events such as Santa Specials on the Steam Railway, Polar at Robin Hill or Tapland In Search of Santa at Tapnell Hill Farm.
If you want to visit an award-winning Christmas market in the delightful surroundings of the city of Bath, Hovertravel has two great options. Working together with Lucketts, the Fareham-based coach operator, Hovertravel has organised a day trip to the Bath Christmas Market, giving customers almost five hours to enjoy this seasonal shopping extravaganza.
The Christmas Market HoverDay to Bath is on Saturday 7th December and the Lucketts coach pick-up is directly opposite Hovertravel’s Southsea terminal.
For customers who are looking for more flexibility with their travel times, Hovertravel sells great value discounted train and hovercraft fares. These tickets include the hovercraft from Ryde to Southsea, the HoverBus to Portsmouth The Hard Interchange and a Great Western Railways train to Bath.
The coach trip can be booked by calling 01983 717700 and all combination rail bookings can be booked in both terminals. The Bath Christmas Market is on now until 15th December 2019.
Hovertravel has announced the winners of its internal awards scheme at a prizegiving ceremony at their Ryde headquarters. Thanks to the efforts of its staff, Hovertravel’s customer service has been recognised externally through independent reviews and awards schemes.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains: “Hovertravel is proud of the service provided by its staff and the reputation we have created for ourselves as the friendliest cross-Solent operator. We constantly monitor customers’ feedback given directly to ourselves and indirectly via review sites such as Trip Advisor, Google and Facebook. These results are discussed and acted on across all departments, including engineers, pilots, cashiers and crew.
Our internal awards recognise and reward our star performers, re-enforcing our customer-focused culture and highlighting those individuals who are at the forefront of our customer service delivery.”
The HoverRewards scheme invited Hovertravel staff to nominate their colleagues and explain why their chosen team member deserved to be recognised. These submissions were then assessed by a panel of third party experts who decided on three awards (Bronze, Silver & Gold) in each category.
Unsung Hero Award
Gold – Chris Wood
Silver – Terri Frost
Bronze – Annie Harrison/Deb Ash (joint winners!)
Service Star Award
Gold – Lorry Middleton
Silver – Marie Armstrong
Bronze – Dean Long
Graham Snow ‘Over & Above’ Award
Gold – Pat Sowerbutts
Silver – Mary Toms
Bronze – Kerry Wherry
The weekend will come early for Hovertravel customers this week, with their Black Friday offers being available for Thursday 28th and Friday 29th November. For these two days only, Hovertravel is offering half-price day returns.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “Our Black Friday offers will allow customers to take advantage of other offers available on that day on both the Isle of Wight and in Portsmouth and beyond. This year we have extended this offer to our Blue Card holders who already benefit from on-going discounts and making this year’s Black Friday deal the best we have offered.”
Hovertravel operates from 0615 in the morning from Ryde and finishes with a 2100 service from Southsea, with 50 flights each weekday and the ability to add in extra crossings as demand dictates. The Black Friday offer can only be booked on Hovertravel’s website and must be booked 48 hours prior to travel.
Hovertravel’s Blue Card is free for all Isle of Wight residents with over 30% discount on Day Return fares and over 10% off Adult Period Returns, from Ryde to Southsea plus the opportunity to access additional ad hoc special offers.
Hovertravel is supporting the newest Christmas charity initiative on the island; Brightbulb Design’s Mince Pie Marathon which is collecting funds for Wight Brainy Bunch. On Wednesday, December 18 the Brightbulb team will deliver mince pies to businesses which have ordered across the Isle of Wight. Hovertravel will be giving these mince pies away to their customers in return for donations.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We have worked with The Wight Brainy Bunch before and the marathon is a great way to involve businesses across the island in helping to raise money for a worthy cause.”
The Wight Brainy Bunch is a small charity on the Isle of Wight providing a support network and financial assistance to local families affected by brain tumours. Brightbulb Design has chosen the charity to be their charity of the year for 2019-2020.
Brightbulb Design’s CEO, Matt Jeffery said: “We are so excited to see so many Island businesses like Hovertravel engaging and getting involved in one of our creative ideas and helping us raise money for this fantastic charity. We have had businesses donating the mince pies to the Salvation Army, setting up afternoon teas for when they arrive and preparing their own magical mince pie moments for when they are to be delivered. We have already raised over £1600 for the charity in just over a week and the orders just keep on coming. Thanks to everyone for the support they are showing.”
Hovertravel has launched its 2019 Festive Travel & Attractions guide. This pocket-sized brochure includes details of Hovertravel’s current offers (including the very popular off-peak fares, the details of Hovertravel’s Christmas timetable and information about the festive events both on the Isle of Wight and in Portsmouth.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, says: “At this time of year there are some great events both on the Isle of Wight and in Portsmouth and beyond. Our customers keep asking for details of these events and our joint offers with attractions for the festive season, so we have produced this handy guide.”
The guide covers seasonal events such as the Victorian Christmas at Osborne House and the Santa Specials at the Ise of Wight Steam Railway. For residents and visitors to the Island there are also some fabulous festive treats in Portsmouth and beyond including Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Victorian Christmas Festival plus the award-winning Christmas markets at Bath and Winchester.
The Festive Travel & Attractions 2019 guide is available now from both terminals and will be distributed nationally via Hovertravel’s network of commercial partners.
Hovertravel was visited by a group of visually impaired pupils from Portsmouth-based Craneswater Junior School. Hosted by a dedicated Hovercare Ambassador, the children were treated to a flight on the hovercraft and had the opportunity to ask questions of the pilot and crew.
Andy Parnell, Hovercare Ambassador, explains: “Our mission at Hovertravel is to make a trip on our hovercraft as accessible as possible. We train our staff to be aware that some customers will have different needs for information, communication and assistance when using our service and events like today’s visit give those customers the opportunity to experience a hovercraft flight and learn more about what happens behind the scenes of the world’s only year-round passenger hovercraft operation.”
Hovertravel’s Hovercare initiative has worked on several activities for the blind and partially-sighted including a themed Try Before You Fly event for World Sight Day and training courses for guided boarding, increased awareness of how loss of vision affects customers (conducted by Barclays Accessibility Team) and how to assist customers with guide dogs.
Caz Gilmore, VI Teaching Assistant at Craneswater Junior School adds: ”Visits to companies like Hovertravel are vital for the children’s education and initiatives like Hovercare really do build confidence in them that they can enjoy experiences such as a hovercraft flight.”
Hovertravel joined in the Purple Tuesday campaign today, adding its weight as a recognised regional champion to this international call to action which is focused on changing the customer experience for disabled people.
Andy Parnell, Hovercare Ambassador, said: “We have committed to a number of initiatives to improve the overall experience for our disabled customers; many of which are based on feedback from our customers. Purple Tuesday is a great opportunity to recognise this work and demonstrate our commitment to supporting disabled passengers.
“By reaching out to the disabled community we have been able to grow our market but, more importantly, we have been able to deliver enhancements to our service. The feedback from our disabled customers has been invaluable and it is encouraging that we have been able to act positively on the comments we receive.”
Hovertravel’s Hovercare is a free service for any passengers requiring assistance with their travel whether they have reduced mobility requirements or just need a little extra help with their journey. Hovercare cards are offered to customers to help Hovertravel identify needs of travellers and to identify customers who are entitled to the range of special fares which are detailed on their website: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/hovercare-travel-scheme/
As part of Hovertravel’s preparations for fund-raising for Children In Need, Pudsey paid a visit to their headquarters in Ryde today. Thanks to Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hovertravel’s car hire partners, Pudsey was able to board the hovercraft at Southsea and fly across the Solent to meet the team at Ryde.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “To be able to welcome an iconic figure such as Pudsey really helped to kick-start our fund-raising activities for Children In Need. Even for his flying visit today, Pudsey was asked for selfies with customers and staff and he also met our very own mascot, Henri the HoverBear. We will be collecting throughout the week and combining our funds with our friends at Enterprise Rent-A-Car to hopefully make a substantial overall donation.”
Hovertravel will be fundraising with a cake sale and with staff dressing up as their favourite celebrity or favourite childhood hero on Friday 15th November.
Loretta adds: “We have found over the years that our customers love to engage with our charitable activities and that we can encourage them to donate by wearing costumes as we conduct our daily duties.”
Hovertravel’s Hovercare initiative has expanded to include autism training for all teams, ensuring that even employees working behind the scenes understand the spectrum of autistic disorders and how they can affect people in a variety of ways.
The training was delivered by independent consultant and trainer David Boxall who said: “Specialising in Autism and anxiety, I was keen to share the enormous difference it can make to Hovertravel’s customers when the teams become more aware of the physiological and psychological impact of anxiety/pressure. Hovertravel has already taken huge steps to help customers on the autistic spectrum with safe spaces and ear defenders and just importantly making sure that the cashiers, crew and pilots understand that these customers might require alternative assistance.”
Autism is a condition which presents itself as a wide spectrum of disorders and is prevalent through the UK. People who have autistic spectrum disorders can be affected differently, with cases ranging from mild to severe. Hovertravel’s Hovercare Ambassadors have already hosted several focussed school trips and organised a Try Before You Fly event, themed to provide advice and assistance to people on the autistic spectrum, which attracted families, carers, friends and local support groups.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, added: “We wanted to build on our current work which has been so well-received and develop a deeper understanding of autism and the principles of supporting individuals to offer best possible experience with Hovertravel.”
Hovertravel staff member Jack has produced a guide entitled “Hovercraft Travel &
Autism: A customer’s guide to flying to the Isle of Wight with Hovertravel” which can be downloaded at: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/media/1761/autisum-hovertravel-guide-v2.pdf
To mark National Spa Week Hovertravel and Solent Forts have teamed up to offer island residents and visitors to the Isle of Wight, the two very best experiences on the Solent. Both brands combine the appeal of history with a contemporary experience and now offer a unique combined package.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “The Solent Forts are an integral part of the Solent seascape, capturing the imagination of visitors and locals alike. Hovertravel similarly adds to the Solent’s allure, being the world’s only year-round commercial passenger hovercraft. By working with the team at the Solent Forts we have created a set of packages which ensure our island community can get to this highly unusual location in the quickest way possible.”
The offers include afternoon tea, Sunday lunch, an afternoon Relax and Rejuvenate spa package and a midweek morning Tranquility spa package, with prices ranging from £65 to £155. All packages include return Hovertravel and HoverBus tickets plus boat transfer from Gunwharf Quays to the Solent Forts.
For more details and bookings please visit: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/special-offers/solent-fort-experiences/
Hovertravel is offering free travel to all veterans this Sunday (10th November) so those who served can attend Remembrance Day services on either side of the Solent.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “We support our past and current military service personnel with discounts and we are proud to be an employer of ex-forces staff as well as a stepping stone for younger team members to go into the military. We recognise the significant sacrifice made by veterans and to show our thanks and respect on this special day, we are offering free travel.”
There are Remembrance Sunday events taking place across Portsmouth and the surrounding areas including Porchester, Havant, Gosport, Southsea and in the city of Portsmouth. Veterans simply need to show their Veterans Outreach ID card in the terminals on Sunday or if a person is in uniform or wearing medals they will get free travel also if they have serving military ID.
Today, 1st of November, sees the start of Hovertravel’s Winter timetable. From now until 31st March 2020, the service will run half-hourly during the morning and evening commuter peaks, with an hourly service during the day.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “For the winter weeks we offer over 50 crossings per day, matching our capacity to customer demand and we also have the flexibility to be able to add in extra crossings when we are busy. For the autumn/winter period this year, our customers asked us to consider later crossings during the run up to Christmas to help with late night shopping so we have an extra flight at 2200 on the 5th, 12 and 19th of December.”
Hovertravel’s winter timetable is available on our website, on our app and printed copies are available at both our terminals. Customers interested in the additional flights in December should visit this link: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/special-offers/hovershopper-fly-to-gunwharf-quays/
Hovertravel customers were given a double treat for Halloween 2019 with sweet treats available for all customers and staff dressed in their most scariest costumes.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Our teams wanted to create a fun atmosphere for Halloween, by adding some scary accessories to their uniform combined with make-up to mimic horrific injuries and creating a ‘zombie chic’ look’.
The Halloween treats were appreciated by both commuters on their way home and revellers looking to cross the Solent to party on the scariest night of the year.
Hovertravel’s Lorry Middleton has been shortlisted for the final of the Beautiful South Awards Customer Service Superstar. Lorry is a firm favourite with Hovertravel customers, both the regular users and those who are first-time passengers.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Lorry’s name is the one which is most mentioned in our positive reviews. He has been nominated in our internal customer service awards consistently and it is this ongoing dedication from Lorry to the customer which makes him a great example to everyone at Hovertravel. He is approachable, engaging and always looking to help customers. Most recently he was described as a ‘true gentleman’ and ‘a treasure’.”
Lorry’s commitment to the customer is his highest priority. He regularly demonstrates this by making sure that customers are sitting comfortably, that they know what will happen at the other end of their hovercraft journey and by making insightful suggestions and recommendations to greatly improve the customer’s overall trip.
Lorry and Hovertravel will now have to wait until 10 December for the final, where he will be alongside the other finalists from Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa, Gunwharf Quays, Chichester Festival Theatre and Solent Hotel & Spa.
The Beautiful South Awards celebrate excellence in tourism across the South East. They aim to promote and reward businesses and individuals in the tourism industry, whatever their sector and size. They are independently judged, and all entrants receive feedback.
Hovertravel also achieved Commended status in the Access and Inclusivity Award category for their Hovercare initiative.
Great South Run runners and spectators alike have been expressing their thanks to Hovertravel for adding extra early services to their timetable. Hovertravel added four services to their normal Sunday schedule today, starting 30 minutes earlier than usual at 0815 and running every 15 minutes until 0945.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: ”We worked very closely with the organisers of the Great South Run to make sure we co-ordinated our timetable with their participants’ need to get to the start line punctually. As the closest cross-Solent operator to this event we were keen to help entrants and their supporters to the event with time to spare. Obviously our ten minute crossing is also a major advantage.”
Hovertravel’s services were very popular with their customers who commented ‘thank you for starting early today’ and ‘we are really grateful to you and your staff for getting up early to help us’.
Hovertravel is hosting a zombie-themed, Halloween charter on Thursday 31st October. With the chance to dress up and listen to tales of terror, this event has been very popular in previous years for horror fans of all ages.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “This charter is the only time of the year when our customers ask to be scared on our hovercraft, so we decorate the interior with Halloween props and give our staff a zombie make-over.
The Solent itself is home to several scary stories of hauntings and ghostly apparitions and during our charter we give some background to these tales of spooky sailors and legends of the deep.”
The Hovertravel Halloween charter departs from Hovertravel’s Ryde Terminal at 1920 and finishes at 2015 including a 20-minute experience, tricks and treats onboard and the opportunity to meet the pilot and see inside the cockpit. For bookings please visit: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/fares-services/hover-excursions-day-trips/halloween-charter/
Hovercare, the Hovertravel initiative to make hovercraft accessible for all, used World Sight Day to open its terminals and craft to those who are blind or partially sighted.
HoverCare Ambassador Andy Parnell explains: “We want to make people comfortable and confident about travelling with us, so we gave a detailed explanation of the measures in place to help customers. These include the choice of a ramp or steps, both with hi-visibility handrails, reserved Hovercare seats on the craft and our recently introduced large-print timetables.”
This Try Before You Fly experience had a different format to previous events, starting with an introduction at the Southsea terminal and then incorporating guided boarding for an operational flight with commentary through the crossing and then a return flight back to Southsea with the opportunity to ask questions.
There were enquiries about how luggage is handled, how to get the large print timetable and how to apply for a Hovercare card – all answered by the Hovercare ambassador, Andy, who added: “As much as we run these events to answer questions and encourage all customers to travel, we also always learn from direct communication with the attendees. For us we know that our Hovercare initiative will be constantly adapting to customers’ needs and we use feedback from these events to evolve our service.”
Hovertravel has been featured as the headline client story in Barclays’ latest marketing campaign. A stunning overhead drone shot of Hovertravel’s 12000 TD craft demonstrating its ultimate manoeuvrability is the background image for the success element of this latest burst of marketing activity.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, said: ”We are very proud to have been asked by Barclays to feature in their advertising campaign and the resulting creative makes a very strong statement about our craft and their capabilities. The images capture the excitement of seeing a hovercraft in action. Working with Barclays is a true partnership which has extended beyond the traditional banker/business relationship and delivers genuine added value for both of us.”
Barclays’ latest campaign showcases 23 businesses within the Success section of their marketing and alongside Hovertravel there are range of companies featured such as Shazam, Center Parcs and The Economist Group.
Neil added: “This unique transaction required a deep understanding of our business, establishing a strong partnership between Barclays and Hovertravel. By drawing on knowledge from similar sectors and their expertise in accessibility, Barclays took a holistic view of the business suggesting further enhancements to improve the customer experience.”
The Barclays campaign includes a TV advert which went live in early October and will run for four weeks and outdoor adverts running in key sites across London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
Hovertravel has extended its timetable by adding in an extra early service on Sunday 20th October for The Great South Run.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel: “By operating our first service 30 minutes earlier we are giving all the island resident and visiting runners the chance to get a head start on their travel to the Great South Run. Our Southsea terminal is located on the edge of Southsea Common with the event just yards away, so we are the obvious choice for both participants and spectators.”
The world’s leading 10-mile run will take place in Portsmouth on Sunday 20th October and marks the 30th outing for this much-loved event. Over 20,000 people will attend, enjoying new on-course experiences and some of Portsmouth's best scenery, including the Spinnaker Tower, Southsea Seafront and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (including Nelson's flagship HMS Victory).
For more details and bookings please visit: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/special-offers/great-south-run-early-services/
Hovertravel staff showed their support for Mountbatten today on Go Yellow Day. Across the company from cashiers to crew and from engineers to pilots, Hovertravel’s teams helped to raise awareness and encourage donations from customers.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel explains: “Hovertravel is a proud and long-term supporter of Mountbatten and we wanted to demonstrate that strong support by wearing yellow today on Go Yellow Day.
Over the years we have participated in Mountbatten’s Walk the Wight as individuals and as part of our corporate team; the Hoverwalkers. We have also donated administrative resources to help with huge organisational task which such events require.
We need the Mountbatten Nurses to help ensure no-one experiences death and dying without professional carers by their side.”
Go Yellow Day is Mountbatten’s annual fund-raising day, held this year on Friday 4th October when people are urged to wear, eat or do something yellow to raise funds to support Mountbatten’s work. Across the Isle of Wight, schools, businesses and individuals will be working together to turn the island yellow.
Mountbatten provides expert care and support to anyone on the Isle of Wight who is facing death, dying and bereavement. All of their services are provided free of charge to patients and their families. This is only possible thanks to the incredible generosity of the community for their continuing support, through fundraising and volunteering. Donations can be made online here: https://www.mountbatten.org.uk/
Hovertravel was a fully engaged participant in Costa Coffee’s free coffee day yesterday, celebrating International Coffee Day by promoting the free coffee from its Costa Express machines in both its Ryde and Southsea terminals.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, added: “Our duty manager, Brett was by the machine at the start of our operation yesterday, greeting customers and explaining that there was free coffee all day. He held that position the end of the evening, making sure all our customers were fully aware of this great offer.”
As part of the promotion, Hovertravel customers were able to choose from anything on the Costa Express machine's menu, including Americano, Latte, Espresso and Cappuccino, or even a hot chocolate. They could also add flavoured syrups and extra shots to their drinks, completely free of charge.
Costa Coffee Managing director Scott Martin said: "For years, self-serve machines have carried a certain stigma. Freeze-dried coffee, long life milk, clumpy soups and bland hot chocolate were readily stocked in machines across the late nineties and early noughties, so we can imagine how one poor experience is enough to put someone off for life.
"We don’t believe this is acceptable and have worked tirelessly to revolutionise the self-serve experience. Our machines serve the same coffee beans and fresh milk you would expect in our Costa Coffee stores, so the quality of your experience is never compromised.
“We’re so confident that once you’ve tried a cup from Costa Express that it’ll fast become a regular part of your routine, so for one day only, we’re giving away a free drink to all.”
Picture shows from left to right: Terri Frost-Duty Manager, Chris Davies-Team Leader and Julie Horrocks-Head of Ground Operations.
Three staff members who have each worked at Hovertravel for ten years have been recognised by the company.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, said “Hovertravel is a service whose people are determined to add extra value to their customers, whether it is through their skills, going the extra mile or through their sheer dedication and commitment to their job. Julie, Terri and Chris have a combined 30 years of experience which they utilise every day to ensure Hovertravel provides a safe, reliable service for both customers and their fellow team members.”
Terri Frost started as a Hovertravel Handling Agent and progressed through assistant supervisor and supervisor roles to become one of Hovertravel’s three Duty Managers. Terri has also successfully qualified as crew.
Chris Davies also joined as a Hovertravel Handling Agent and was promoted in a similar way to become Team Leader. Chris is also qualified to act as crew onboard the hovercraft.
Julie Horrocks initially joined the Commercial Team where she took on the role of business development and built a network of partnerships with other transport operators and attractions. In 2018 Julie became Head of Ground Operations where she is responsible for the day-to-day operation of Hovertravel.
Hovertravel employs 85 staff and welcomes applications for any of its current vacancies at https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/careers/
Hovertravel has carried six volunteers and 1,109 bras across the Solent for national charity, Breast Cancer Care. Sarah Tyrell-Jones is the Island’s community fundraiser for national charity Breast Cancer Care and she decided to take part in the bra recycling scheme run by sister charity Against Breast Cancer
Sarah said: “I would like to thank Hovertravel, the many volunteers who got involved, and I am also so grateful to everyone who donated their underwear.”
Bras have been donated from across the Isle of Wight and, instead of ending up in the bin, are sent to developing countries, where local people recycle and distribute the underwear. The charity also receives £700 for every tonne of bras collected. The scheme was created because in countries such as Togo, Ghana and Kenya, it is too expensive to produce the bras locally.
Successful ventures like this keep many families in developing countries out of poverty whilst providing employment for people at home in the UK. Any bras that are genuinely beyond redemption are dismantled and disposed of properly.
Hilda Hayo, Chief Admiral Nurse and Chief Executive Officer for Dementia UK, visited Hovertravel’s Ryde terminal to help raise awareness of those living with dementia and to help Hovertravel’s fund-raising coffee morning.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “To have Hilda as our guest of honour at our coffee morning for Dementia UK Admiral Nurses for the Isle of Wight boosted donations and raised awareness of the amazing work done by the Admiral Nurses.
We registered more Isle of Wight residents for our HoverCare card and encouraged open discussions about dementia with a broad cross section of customers, staff and visitors.”
The HoverCare card provides a discount for patients, hospital visitors and NHS professionals travelling to work. Hovertravel customers can request a HoverCare card which will indicate whether they require help with luggage, are a lip reader, whether they need to be seated, or would like help boarding the hovercraft. The card can also, if the customer wishes, show that the holder has reduced mobility, autism, dementia, reduced vision or impaired hearing.
To apply for a HoverCare card please visit Hovertravel’s terminals in Ryde or Southsea.
Hovertravel is launching their new Hover Shopper fare, offering the fastest way to Gunwharf Quays and giving the best deals for its customers.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel says: “We have listened to our island customers, both residents and visitors, who say that they enjoy flying across to Gunwharf Quays for shopping trips and so we have introduced our new Hover Shopper fare for the busiest shopping season; September to March.
We have also teamed up with Gunwharf Quays to add even more value to this amazing offer by arranging for our customers to show their ticket at Gunwharf’s Guest Relations Suite, where they will be able to get a Quay card offering a further 10% discount at many of the brands at the designer shopping outlet.”
This fantastic deal costs £15 for an adult return or £7.50 for a child and includes free Hoverbus when they show their Hovertravel ticket on the bus. This fare can only be booked via this link: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/special-offers/hovershopper-fly-to-gunwharf-quays/ and must be purchased 48 hours before departure.
Hovertravel’s Try Before You Fly event this weekend was a sell-out success. Themed to provide advice and assistance to people on the autistic spectrum, this session attracted families, carers, friends and local support groups.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel explains, “We had such a tremendous response from the local community for this event that we were full to capacity. Guests met the staff, crew and pilots of Hovertravel, whilst being hosted by the HoverCare team and being able to ask whatever questions they wished. The feedback from our visitors was that they all felt much more comfortable about using the hovercraft in the future.”
This ‘try before you fly’ approach has been designed to help customers get the best insight for any future visits and Hovertravel continues to evolve its HoverCare services through better understanding the needs of those on the autistic spectrum.
The next HoverCare Try Before You Fly event is scheduled for World Sight Day on Thursday 10 October between 11am and 1230pm at Hovertravel’s Southsea terminal.
For more details on the HoverCare services please visit: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/hovercare-travel-scheme/
Ian Dory has started his challenge to walk around the Isle of Wight with a tumble dryer strapped to his back with the help of Hovertravel. Ian is walking to raise awareness and funds for Charlie’s Beach Hut, a charity that provides a relaxing environment for families of children with life limiting illnesses and families of fire-fighters that have suffered bereavement, or life changing injury whilst in the line of duty.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Kicking off his charity walk at Hovertravel’s Southsea terminal, Ian’s first few steps were up into the hovercraft and we wish Ian all the luck in the world in his challenge to raise £5000.”
Charlie’s Beach Hut was set up by the family of five-year-old Charlie Codling, who tragically passed away from a brain tumour in 2012 and aims to give families the opportunity to forge some forever memories, in a hope that they too can ‘find the wonderful in today’.
To donate please visit the fundraising page here
Hilda Hayo, Chief Admiral Nurse and Chief Executive Officer for Dementia UK will be available for questions at Hovertravel’s Ryde terminal between 10am and 12 noon on Thursday 19 September. As well facilitating open question-and-answer sessions at 1015 and 1115, Hilda can be booked for a five-minute one-to-one consultation.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “As part of our ongoing support and initiatives with Dementia UK Admiral Nurses for the Isle of Wight, we are giving Isle of Wight residents the opportunity to meet and listen to advice from one of the foremost dementia specialists in the UK.
By using our terminal to create an informal and open event we hope to encourage greater understanding of dementia amongst the local community as well as enabling specific guidance to be given on an individual basis.”
Hilda has been the Chief Admiral Nurse and Chief Executive Officer for Dementia UK since 2013. A dual registered nurse she has over 38 years’ experience developing and leading dementia specialist teams and services throughout the NHS.
During this time, Hilda has held senior positions in clinical services, hospital management and higher education. She held Principal Lecturer posts at both London South Bank University and University of Northampton, specialising in older people’s mental health, dementia and community care. She is a visiting fellow of dementia studies at the University of Northampton.
Individual meetings are available as five-minute slots from 1025 to 1100 and from 1125 to 1150. As Hilda is only available for the morning please book your five minute one-to-one session in advance by emailing email@example.com . There will be free refreshments provided.
All Portsmouth Library Card holders get 20% discount on Hovertravel fares. The Portsmouth Library Card is free, and you do not even need to live in Portsmouth to qualify.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: 'We are keen to support the communities on both sides of the Solent, so when we can work with an institution such as the Portsmouth City Libraries and add value to their visitors, we are proud to provide an ongoing discount.'
You can join in person at one of Portsmouth City Council's nine libraries or fill in the online application form here.
Hovertravel and South West Trains are working to promote the sights and sounds of London to Island customers. Catching the 0845 hovercraft from Ryde means you can be in London by 1045 and then six hours later, jumping on the 1800 from Waterloo delivers you back on the island by 2010.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “By offering the fastest ferry route off the Island we open up so many opportunities for our customers to explore destinations further afield. London is one of the world’s most exciting cities and it is easy to spend a day there using Hovertravel and our transport partners; South West Trains.
You can buy all your travel at our Ryde terminal – we sell the train tickets and the hovercraft tickets plus our staff have been trained to give you professional advice on getting the best deal for your day trip.”
Hovertravel has produced an example itinerary featuring some suggestions for how customers might enjoy some attractions in London such as the London Eye, a matinee at one of the famous West End theatres, a trip to one of the many world-class museums or simply enjoying some of the best shops to be found anywhere on the planet.
Hovertravel’s Blue Card (which is free to all Isle of Wight residents) holders can receive further 20% off their Blue Card Hovertravel ticket using this special link: hovertravel.co.uk/?aff=LONDONFLYER
An exciting new exhibit has landed at the Hovercraft Museum in Lee-on-Solent and Hovertravel is operating a special excursion for Island residents to be amongst the first to see this new addition, and adding a kids go free offer. Visitors will be able to see ‘Falcon’ an AP1-88 hovercraft, gifted to the museum by her former Swedish owners Hoverline Ltd.
Louise Jenkins, Head of the Trustees of the Hovercraft Museum, explains: “I am very proud to have had the opportunity to assist in securing an AP1-88 for the museum as has long been a missing part of the collection. Falcon is a beautiful example being the last craft made by BHC / Westland Aerospace at East Cowes in 1991. She was completely overhauled before being placed into storage 10 years ago and her engines are in exceptionally good condition. “
Her arrival at the slipway at Lee-on-Solent was an exciting event in itself and it took five hours to position her into her final position. She was able to maintain hover for the entire move with her being towed from Hythe to our slipway and then winched and pushed into final location, this involved a final 360 degree turn on the land and grass at the rear of the museum.
On Saturday 15th September Hovertravel will operate a departure from Ryde at 1030, arriving in Lee-On-Solent at 10.45. The Hovercraft Museum is directly opposite where the hovercraft lands, so customers can cross the road and start looking around immediately.
For more information and bookings please visit: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/excursions-and-charters/hovershows-open-days-hovercraft-museum/
With the award-winning three-day event just steps away from their Southsea terminal, Hovertravel had their busiest ever Victorious Festival this bank holiday weekend.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, said: “We have been adding extra services late into the night to help the festival guests return to the Isle of Wight, once the music stops. By adding five extra services on Friday, Saturday and Sunday we provided the closest and fastest way home from Victorious. Hovertravel’s team of committed staff, including the people not seen such as the engineers, stay late to make these late-night services possible and we all appreciated the gratitude shown by our customers over the weekend.”
All Hovertravel’s additional services were booked to full capacity, creating a busy, fun post-party atmosphere in the terminals. Starting at 2230, Hovertravel operated from Southsea every 30 minutes until 0030 on each night of the event.
Loretta adds: “Hovertravel is able to offer extra services for major events such as the Isle of Wight Festival, Victorious and the Great South Run because we have the operational flexibility to add in more crossings very quickly. When this is combined with our market-leading journey time of ten minutes, we become the obvious choice to cross the Solent.”
Following on from their involvement in the hugely successful National Refill Day which reached an audience of over 73 million on social media and trended on Twitter all day, Hovertravel has been promoting their Refill Station status to their customers.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “We started reducing our single-use plastic consumption by giving all our staff re-usable water bottles on National Refill Day and since then our teams have been explaining our commitment to offer free tap water refills to all customers who bring a reusable bottle. Also, to encourage customers to ask for refills, we are displaying the round, blue “Refill” sticker on our terminal windows.”
Hovertravel has also signed up to the interactive Refill app, which now has 160,000 downloads, and has digital mapping to tell users where their nearest Refill point is in real-time. Both Hovertravel terminals, in Ryde and Southsea, are Refill points. The Refill app currently lists more than 20,000 Refill points across the UK and is aiming to have Refill locations in every town and city by 2021.
Loretta continues: “We have always been aware of the importance of staying hydrated when travelling and have ensured that we promote drinking water to our staff and customers throughout the year. As a ferry service we also recognise that transport hubs are ideal location for a refill station, and that we could make a real difference to the problem of plastic pollution.”
Hovertravel joins other major transport brands such as Network Rail, Heathrow Airport and Transport for London in offering free refills.
Hovertravel helped Branchline, a voluntary association for railway enthusiasts, raise £10, 346 for the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) with a Portsmouth rail tour.
Neil Chapman, MD at Hovertravel, explained: “By working with an established association such as Branchline, we raised a significant sum for a very worthy charity, and we showcased Portsmouth to over 450 enthusiastic tourists. Hovertravel takes its role as an active promoter of local tourism very seriously and we engage with our contacts across the travel and transport sectors to raise the awareness of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight on a regular basis.”
The Portsmouth rail tour started in Crewe at 0530 and wound its way to Portsmouth via Stafford, Nuneaton, Watford and Reading before arriving at 1256. Guests then had four hours to explore the city, with optional excursions including the D-Day Museum and the Hovercraft Museum.
The Branch Line Society is a UK-based voluntary association for railway enthusiasts. It is a nationally spread organisation with a membership of nearly 2,000. It was established in 1955 and is widely recognised as Britain's leading amateur group for the study of railway infrastructure and history of networks.
Hovertravel is using Cycle To Work Day to celebrate carrying in excess of one million bikes for free. Back in 1965, Hovertravel’s early craft were not designed to transport cycles but the current fleet can carry up to four bikes per crossing in designated areas within the luggage section at the front of the craft.
Julie Horrocks, Head of Ground operations at Hovertravel, adds: “Our service has adapted to answer the increased demand for transporting bikes. We have seen significantly more commuters travelling with bikes and this is reflected across our own workforce with more Hovertravel staff cycling to work than at any time in the company’s history.”
In addition to the cycle-friendly luggage compartment on the craft, Hovertravel has a bike shed and lockers at its Southsea terminal for commuters who wish to use their bike for just one part of their commute. Bikes can not be booked on the craft; this facility is provided on a first come, first served basis, is subject to availability and there is no extra charge.
Hovertravel and Victorious Festival’s successful partnership has lifted off again with seats for Hovertravel’s extra later services, over the festival weekend, selling fast.
‘This is the third year we have added additional night time services for the Victorious Festival,” says Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, “As the closest ferry operator, we deliver visitors to the festival on the edge of Southsea Common and we get those customers there twice as fast with a journey of just ten minutes.
It makes sense to extend our timetable, on past the evening to beyond midnight, so the island community has the flexibility to enjoy the complete Victorious experience and still get home quicker than any other route.”
The award-winning Victorious Festival is on Southsea Common for the 2019 August bank holiday with a host of headliners including Two Door Cinema Club, The Specials, Rudimental, Lewis Capaldi and New Order.
Hovertravel Later Services for Victorious Festival:
From Southsea: 2230, 2300, 2330,(Saturday) 0000 and 0030
From Southsea: 2230, 2300, 2330, (Sunday) 0000 and 0030
From Southsea: 2230, 2300, 2330, (Monday) 0000 and 0030
All the additional services are on sale now and you can book until 31 July with a 20% discount. Call 01983 717700 and quote 'VICTORIOUS19' to obtain the discount.
As National Marine Week starts, Hovertravel is urging everyone to visit the beach to experience the sights, smells and sensations of the seashore. As a beach-based business, Hovertravel’s terminals are ideally placed to become part of a day trip to the seaside and as the world’s only year-round passenger hovercraft service, its operations are much less harmful to the environment than traditional shipping.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “For over 50 years we have been transporting people and packages from beach to beach, giving holidaymakers the chance to experience the sandy shores of the Isle of Wight and island residents the chance to visit their nearest aquarium, Blue Reef in Southsea. Today our hovercraft represent the most advanced passenger hovercraft technology in the world and this in turn means that the marine environment can be travelled over in a sensitive, more direct manner, without needing to dredge and disturb it.”
These benefits come from the way hovercraft function by creating a pressurised zone of air to lift the entire hull above the surface. Hovertravel’s 12000TD craft, use the most modern mechanical innovations and technology found in a hovercraft and can carry 12 tonnes of payload at over 1.5 meters above the surface. There is no displacement of craft weight in the water and the hull is not in contact meaning marine life are left alone to their own devices. The two engines which provide power for lift and thrust in the 12000TD are housed internally within the hull and are therefore isolated from the ecosystems the hovercraft may be passing over, instead of requiring the ecosystem to provide the material for propulsion. This minimal amount of contact with the water also means the wash created even when travelling at high speeds remains low.
For more details about Hovertravel please visit: www.hovertravel.co.uk and to understand more about The Wildlife Trusts' inspirational and engaging citizen science project please visit: www.wildlifetrusts.org/get-involved/other-ways-get-involved/shoresearch
To celebrate the start of National Marine Week (27th July to 11th August) Hovertravel is promoting its partnership with the award-winning Blue Reef Aquarium in Southsea.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Unfortunately there are no longer any aquariums on the island, so we have teamed up with Blue Reef to offer a discounted combination travel and entrance price. We can whisk any budding marine life enthusiasts across the Solent in ten minutes and following a short shoreside walk to the aquarium, visitors will be able to experience a dazzling undersea safari through the oceans of the world.”
The all-inclusive ticket includes day return on the hovercraft plus entrance to the Blue Reef Aquarium and is available to buy online or at Hovertravel’s Ryde terminal.
Blue Reef is currently hosting a Festival of Fishes where visitors learn about fish families, marine mysteries and homely habitats. There are expert talks and activities throughout the day, ranging from Rockpool Encounters to Shark Tales and even the chance to meet Charlie the Clownfish.
National Marine Week is The Wildlife Trusts’ nationwide celebration of all things marine. Despite the name, it lasts 15 fun-filled days to allow for the variation in tide times around the country. During this time, Wildlife Trusts all around the UK put on a jam-packed programme of events and activities including rockpool rambles and guided boat trips.
Hovertravel has been shortlisted in the 2019 National Transport Awards’ Ferry Operator of the Year category. With a large number of entries this year, creating intense competition, it is Hovertravel’s accessibility initiative, HoverCare, which has been selected by the judges to be in the final, alongside three other ferry operators. The winners will be announced at the 19th National Transport Awards in London on 31st October 2019.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, said:” This is the second time we have been shortlisted in the National Transport Award’s Ferry Operator of the year and as we are especially proud to be in the final this year for our HoverCare initiative. We have expanded our efforts in improving accessibility for all with activities such as participating in national campaigns such as Disabled Access Day and training our staff in specific skills such as dementia awareness, Makaton and guided boarding. To be recognised as a finalist at a national level for this initiative elevates the conversation about accessibility to the very top of the UK transport sector.”
HoverCare is a service for any Hovertravel customer requiring assistance with their travel whether they have reduced mobility requirements or just need a little extra help with their journey. Hovertravel is committed to ensure access and travel on its hovercraft, in its terminals and during all elements of the journey from start to finish, are as comfortable and safe as possible.
Supported by the Department for Transport and Transport Focus, the 2019 National Transport Awards has a distinguished panel of expert judges including representatives from The Transport Select Committee, Transport Focus, Greener Journeys and a professor in Transport at Plymouth University. These judges asked entrants to outline the range of initiatives that the ferry operator has been involved in to improve services and facilities together with results that have been achieved.
Hovertravel flew the rainbow flag for Isle of Wight Pride on Saturday. From extra services, a celebrity host at Southsea, our staff adding a nautical theme to the parade in Ryde, this day was about adding extra colour to this exciting event.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, added: “This year is the 50th anniversary of the birth of the modern LGBT+ rights movement and our teams were keen to support the Isle of Wight Pride 2019. Even half a century later, it is important to celebrate past achievements and continue to raise awareness, so we can all have the freedom to live, to love and to be ourselves, free from hatred, discrimination or criminalisation.”
2019 saw the Isle of Wight Pride parade return to Ryde, where all the shops created colourful displays, crowds lined the streets and a wave of colour washed down Union Street into the Esplanade. Local businesses and volunteers joined in the fun including Southern Vectis, Isle of Wight Scouts as well as sponsors Unison, Inner Spaces and Ryde Town Council. Hovertravel’s parade participants were dressed in white sailors’ uniforms, highlighted with flashes of rainbow colours on their caps, cuffs and epaulets.
Hovertravel has been engaging local businesses on both sides of the Solent in the last week, exhibiting at both the Portsmouth Expo and the Isle of Wight Expo.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, explains:” We are a vital link between the two communities of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, delivering time sensitive products and people in a hurry twice as fast as any other ferry. As an anchor business and significant employer in the region, we take our corporate responsibilities very seriously and are always looking for ways to support other businesses.”
The Portsmouth Expo was held at The Pyramids on Southsea seafront, just a short walk from Hovertravel’s terminal. This is Portsmouth's biggest business show with over 60 exhibitors meeting hundreds of visitors – all keen to network and forge relationships with local companies.
Organised by the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, the Isle of Wight Expo one day event at the Lakeside Park Hotel in Wootton brought the Island’s business community together for a high value day packed full of quality networking opportunities, seminars and exhibitor offers.
Hovertravel works with many companies, of all sizes and provide a number of services such as freight, corporate accounts, and charitable co-operation to help businesses across the Solent region grow and succeed.
Award winning drag persona Miss Jason will be strutting her stuff and entertaining the crowds at Hovertravel’s Southsea terminal on Saturday 20th July.
Miss Jason says: “I love a meet and greet and what better way to extend a warm welcome to all those people crossing the Solent for the infamous Isle of Wight Pride than having me posing on the pad. I shall smile for the selfies, wave off every flight and bring some extra colour to Hovertravel’s operation.”
Appearing exclusively at the Southsea terminal, Miss Jason will be hosting customers for hovercraft flights to Ryde from Southsea starting from 10am to 1pm. This year’s Isle of Pride begins at noon with an exuberantly colourful parade starting from Queens Road in Ryde, flowing down West Street before making its way through the town down Union Street to the sea front and along Ryde Esplanade. The parade will finish around the Superbowl, next to Hovertravel, where there will be a community village and market.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “Hovertravel is a strong supporter of the vibrant LGBTQ community on the Isle of Wight and beyond. For the last three years our staff have used this event to demonstrate the diversity which exists in our business and raise awareness of the prejudice and violence still faced by this community around the world. We are also helping to bring people to Ryde for this wonderfully inclusive event and thank Miss Jason getting the fun started across the Solent in Southsea.”
For more details and information on how to book please visit: https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/special-offers/isle-of-wight-pride-2019/
St. Jude’s Church Nursery, an established popular nursery in Southsea, took their children on a series of summer outings with Hovertravel.
Sharon Riley, Room Leader at St. Jude’s Church Nursery, explained: “For children who are just three or four years old, summer outings are very exciting and as we have the world’s only passenger hovercraft service on our doorstep, we wanted to include a flight across the Solent as part of the day. We are the first nursery to book a series of trips with Hovertravel and they have been the perfect hosts, providing stickers, certificates as well as a hello from the pilot!”
Hovertravel’s fully accessible 78-seater hovercraft cross the Solent more than twice as fast as any other ferry operator and can provide a tailored experience for groups of all ages. Optional add-ons can include a 15-minute hovercraft demonstration, a question-and-answer session with the pilot and crew and the chance to meet Henri the HoverBear.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, added: “Seeing the excitement as the children board our hovercraft is very rewarding for everyone at Hovertravel, knowing that they will always remember their first flight with us. From our very first summer back in 1965, we have been family friendly and today we still welcome all ages, from school children crossing every day of term to A Level students studying engineering on a STEM visit.”
Hovertravel is part of a project to celebrate the Isle of Wight with the publication of The Wight Book – an independently funded, large format, hardback book which celebrates the unique, the innovative, and the dazzling of the island.
Christopher Scott, co-author, explains his vision: “Some years ago, I had an idea to make a film and to create a high-quality book to celebrate what is best about the Isle of Wight, what it excels at now, along with its aspirations for the future. Part advocacy and part artwork, The Wight Book is the realisation of that dream. Brian Marriott, my co-author, and I intended the book to be produced independently of any institution, showcasing the Island in pictures, words and opinions by people who care about its unique environment and sense of community. We wanted to present our history, innovative DNA and cultural flair – in particular our excellence in food production, opportunities for business and growing potential for quality in architecture and housing.”
Using the words of 22 leading figures across the island and ten highly talented photographers, The Wight Book showcases the Isle of Wight better than any previous book.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “We knew instantly that we had to be part of this project which focusses on the Isle of Wight. We promote this amazing Island every day and dedicate considerable resources to ensuring that we help to raise awareness of, and encourage visitors to, this very special destination. As a business which was born on the island, we are extremely proud of the Isle of Wight and are excited to see The Wight Book tell its story through a unique collection of words and pictures.”
The White Book is available to purchase at Hovertravel’s terminals.
Leading travel trade publication Travel Trade Gazette today announced that Hovertravel pilot Nick Wood is on their shortlist of LGBT Travel Pride Champions for 2019. A total of 15 individuals have been shortlisted for the accolades for their work in championing diversity and travel.
Nick Wood flew a hovercraft, emblazoned with rainbow flags and carrying VIP guests, to the first ever UK Pride on the Beach. Landing on Ryde Sands on the Isle of Wight, just metres from the Pride Festival, Nick completed this tricky manoeuvre whilst wearing a two-piece rainbow suit and cowboy hat.
Flying a 45-tonne cross between a helicopter and boat at up to 50 knots through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels to land precisely at the Pride event demonstrates Nick’s commitment to his job.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “Nick is a great ambassador for Hovertravel’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The photos and publicity from 2017 and 2018 profiled Hovertravel’s involvement in Pride and the LGBT community. Even more significantly the image of rainbow suited Nick standing on the deck of a hovercraft has become a symbol both internally and externally for the inclusivity of Hovertravel.”
From creating diversity and inclusion training modules for agents to helping establish gender-neutral toilets, TTG has said that the judges were both inspired and impressed by the incredible work of individuals throughout travel. The winning Travel Pride Champions will be named at this year’s Travel Pride on 9 July at the Queen of Hoxton, Shoreditch.
Hovertravel has produced bigger versions of its printed timetables for customers who request a larger printed format.
In the UK, there are almost 2 million people living with sight loss and The Royal National Institute for Blind People estimates that 93% of people who are registered blind or partially sighted retain some useful vision.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “Although our timetables are available online to view or download, we have always printed a small number of pocket-sized paper timetables. As part of our Hovercare initiative we have been listening to feedback from our customers and there were several requests for a much larger timetable.
So, we have created a super-size version which when folded out measures a whopping 49x42 cm yet folds into pocket-size when not being used.”
Hovertravel’s Hovercare initiative continues to evolve by listening to customers and other groups in the community and acting on their feedback to make the experience of travelling by hovercraft even more accessible. Hovertravel’s large and small timetables are available at both Ryde and Southsea terminals.
To help celebrate Armed Forces Day (Saturday 29th June), Hovertravel is showing its support by collecting salutes from its staff and posting them across its social media networks.
The #SaluteOurForces initiative is a simple way for anyone to pay tribute to the British Armed Forces community for their hard work and dedication in keeping us safe in the UK and across the globe. Hovertravel staff from across the business, including pilots, cashiers, crew, engineers, finance and admin staff have joined in to say thank you.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Hovertravel has a proud history of helping military service personnel. We have an ongoing 20% discount for all active armed forces through the Defence Discount card scheme and we are looking to launch an offer for veterans with Veterans Outreach Support.
In the 54 years since we started, we have always had staff who were ex-military and today we also have two workers who started with us and are planning to go on to a career in the Royal Navy.”
As part of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal’s visit to The Hovercraft Museum yesterday, Hovertravel’s Solent Flyer performed a series of manoeuvres designed to demonstrate the hovercraft’s unique abilities. Princess Anne was visiting the world’s only hovercraft museum to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the naming of the giant SR.N4 hovercraft The Princess Anne by HRH in 1969 and the start of the continuous cross-Channel services from Ramsgate and Dover to Calais and Boulogne by the Swedish owned Hoverlloyd and British Rail owned Seaspeed. The visit also marked the 60th anniversary of the first Channel crossing from Calais to Dover on the experimental SR.N1 hovercraft with the inventor, Christopher Cockerell, on board.
Before receiving a painting of the hovercraft, and unveiling a plaque, Her Royal Highness toured the museum where she met nearly 100 people from eight organisations associated with the early days of the development and operation of the hovercraft, through to those involved with the construction and operation of the modern day machines, of which Britain is still the world leader.
Brought in especially for the visit to sit alongside The Princess Anne was one of Hovertravel’s modern 80 seat passenger craft used on the Southsea to Ryde, Isle of Wight, route, and the state of the art Griffon 995, both manufactured by Griffon Hoverwork of Southampton.
Last week, John Carter was again involved in a ribbon cutting ceremony at Hovertravel, almost 54 years after he was part of the inaugural Hovertravel flight from Ryde to Stokes Bay, Gosport.
On 4th August 1965, newly employed John was part of the beach crew at Hovertravel’s Stokes Bay operation. His task for the ceremony was to hold one end of a ribbon as the first Hovertravel flight from the Isle of Wight landed to officially open the service. That flight included some high-profile guests including Lord Louis Mountbatten and was welcomed ashore by the mayors of both Gosport and Portsmouth.
Re-enacting the ribbon cutting last weekend John took centre stage this time, cutting the ribbon in front of all the guests of an Airbus private hovercraft charter in aid of the Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association. John, now a design engineer in the space and aviation departments of Airbus, expressed his joy at being at both events: “I took the job at Hovertravel for the summer before going on to start my career at the MOD and it was very exciting for a young boy just out of school to be part of this new and unusual hovercraft service. Now with over five decades of working in the aviation sector I am thrilled to be part of another fun day on the hovercraft, especially as today’s trip is raising money for such a worthy cause.”
Seventy-four Airbus staff and families enjoyed a fun-filled two hours with the hovercraft, including demonstrations of the craft’s unique manoeuvrability at sea and show-and-tell session with the pilot, raising over £1500 for the Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association.
Today, as part of National Refill Day, Hovertravel is helping its staff get involved in its efforts to reduce the use of single-use plastic by giving staff free refillable water bottles. Across Hovertravel, the 85 staff which work on both sides of the Solent from pilots to engineers and handling agents to cashiers, will be encouraged to use one of the reusable bottles.
Chris Davis, one of Hovertravel’s HoverGreen Ambassadors, said, “Thanks to programmes such as the BBC’s Blue Planet, there is much more awareness of single-use plastics and the devastating effects they are having on our environment and oceans. At the same time, we are always encouraging our staff to stay hydrated with the consequence that across our business we consume over 20,000 bottles of water each year. The introduction of reusable water bottles for all staff means we can impact our usage of single-use plastic whilst keeping our teams refreshed and healthy.”
Hovertravel has supplemented this HoverGreen initiative for their staff with a commitment to involve their customers too. Chris adds: “As a responsible business, we are committed to reducing our environmental impact wherever we can, and we are improving the choice for our customers by offering free tap- water refills for any customers who bring in their own reusable water bottles.”
In 2018, Hovertravel formed an internal action group of HoverGreen ambassadors to explore how the company’s environmental initiative could be developed. Alongside monthly beach cleans, there are plans to offer regular training on how to manage waste effectively and increase recycling.
Hovertravel has helped the returning Isle of Wight Festival visitors return home even quicker today. By running additional services starting with an extra service at 6am, the customers were flown back across the Solent in double-quick time.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “With a journey time twice as fast as any other cross-Solent ferry we have the ability to add services to our timetable to handle increases in demand. So today we ran twice as many crossings as normal and with almost every craft full, we have kept a steady flow of customers moving off the Island.”
The festival goers appreciated the quick crossing and fun atmosphere at Hovertravel’s Ryde terminal, smiling and waving even after a hectic weekend of partying.
Smiles and grins were very much in evidence at Hovertravel today, despite the squally rain showers and occasionally chilly breeze. The 2019 Isle of Wight Festival opened its gates and as usual Hovertravel was full of festival goers keen to get their weekend started.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “From 6am this morning we have had a warm welcome ready at our Southsea terminal and we have been operating full craft and keeping to timetable throughout the day. Once again our staff have done great work in handling exceptionally large quantities of luggage as the festival visitors continue to bring all their provisions with them. Best of all, there has been a great atmosphere of anticipation for a fun weekend and we have kept all our customers smiling.”
The Isle of Wight Festival began with a series of Festivals between 1968 and 1970, widely acknowledged as Europe’s equivalent of Woodstock. This year’s event, which runs from 13-16 June, includes Noel Gallagher’s Flying Birds, George Ezra, Biffy Clyro and Fatboy Slim.
A team of volunteer litter-pickers from Hovertravel were mucking in today to help rid Ryde beach of rubbish, making this their third consecutive month of beach cleans.
Hovertravel’s HoverGreen approach is a staff-led initiative which identifies ways in which the business can use its resources to help the local environment. One of the first suggestions from the teams was to ask for volunteers for a monthly beach clean.
HoverGreen Ambassador at Hovertravel, Chris Davis explains: “The beach is such a lovely scenic location and we found we made a difference in just over an hour. Bringing people together from across the 85 staff in the business meant involving people from both terminals and across all departments. We even had staff come in on their day off. It was so satisfying to know that our efforts are improving the environment for both residents and visitors.”
The latest beach clean collected some of the biggest items so far – with a car tyre and a random piece of glass fibre being retrieved from the shore just along from our Ryde terminal. The team also found also nappies, tea bags and a random silicon-filled pouch alongside the usual sweet wrappers and cans.
Hovertravel is ready to help commuters and regular customers during the forthcoming Isle of Wight Festival weekend with priority boarding and dedicated queuing lanes within the terminals.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We appreciate that many people rely on us to fly across the Solent for work and hospital appointments, or going on holiday to cruise ports and airports and our highly successful priority boarding system will be operating as normal during the busy Festival period. This avoids any unnecessary delays for our commuters and local residents as we fast-track these passengers to the priority boarding area at the front of the queue and on to the next available departure.
At the same time, we are taking advantage of our fast crossing times and flexible operation to add extra crossings to accommodate the increased demand from festival-goers.”
Hovertravel is operating a booked craft service for all customers including visitors to the festival and this process has proven to be very successful in previous years. Priority boarding means that festival queues are kept to a minimum, regular customers get to their booked seats first and ensures the quickest turnaround for the craft.
Flying across the Solent at up to 50 knots on the world’s only year-round commercial passenger hovercraft service is THE way to get to the Isle of Wight Festival. These awesome machines have carried everything from letters to lion cubs and pigeons to poodles.
Travelling to the festival probably means you are going to be packing significant quantities of drink, so the team at Hovertravel has provided a few tips to get the most out of your hovercraft flight.
1. No drinking on board
If you are carrying a drink – finish it, bin it or it will be taken from you to be disposed.
2. No drunks allowed onboard
You may have started to get into the festival spirit early but if you are too drunk, the pilot and crew are legally allowed to stop you travelling.
3. Pack sensibly
Although you are likely to be carrying 10x your own body weight in beer, the Hovertravel crew will help to ensure the safe transit of your luggage, even if it means disassembling your sack truck.
4. Pack responsibly
Hovertravel is unable to accept any dangerous goods on our hovercraft and, yes, this includes gas canisters in camping equipment.
5. Forget your passport
Contrary to urban myth you do not need your passport to travel to the Isle of Wight.
Hovertravel offers ten-minute crossings from Southsea, Portsmouth to Ryde on the Isle of Wight every thirty minutes. For more details visit www.hovertravel.co.uk
Hovertravel is helping everyone to enjoy the full day on Saturday 8th June when Southsea Common hosts the first ever Portsmouth Revival Festival by running an extra late service at 22:30.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We have been supporting the D-DAY 75 anniversary events throughout the week and we will be running one extra late service from Southsea on Saturday 8th June at 22:30 to allow people who want to enjoy the full 15 minute fireworks display starting at 22:00.”
The Portsmouth Revival will be a weekend of entertainment and activities for all the family featuring music and dancing from the 1940s, arena displays, military and vintage vehicles, vintage fairground rides, a 1940s vintage market, and archive and war film screenings. There will also be a Red Arrows flypast at some point during the afternoon.
Then the evening starts with the Sunset Concert for Heroes, a 1940s themed concert featuring the Portsmouth Military Wives Choir, the D-Day Darlings, and the Royal Marines Association Concert Band all performing on the main stage at Southsea Common. This is a free and un-ticketed event which starts 19:30 and finishes at 22:00.
Finally, on Saturday there will be a D-Day 75 themed firework display on Saturday 8 June at 10pm, supported by Gunwharf Quays. The fireworks will be lit from barges moored off Southsea seafront, making Southsea Common the perfect place to watch the display and conclude Saturday's entertainment.
Enterprise is expanding its Enterprise Car Club operation on the Isle of Wight by adding two new vehicles to an all-new location based at Hovertravel’s terminal in Ryde.
The move means that business, leisure and residential travellers visiting the Island can quickly pick up a car the minute they step off the hovercraft – at any time of the day or night - and get on the road straight away.
With vehicles parked just a few seconds’ walk from where the hovercraft lands, the Enterprise Car Club service is both very convenient and can help those visiting the Island to save money. This is because the combined cost of using the hovercraft and picking up an Enterprise Car Club vehicle on the Island can cost less than bringing a vehicle to the Island for the day on the car ferry or relying on Isle of Wight taxi services. The service is therefore especially appealing to the many SMEs who travel between the Island and mainland and are looking for more cost-effective travel choices.
What’s more, Enterprise Car Club members will receive an extra 20% off travel with Hovertravel, as well as £10 driving credit and annual membership for just £10 – reduced from £60*. Enterprise Car Club is planning to add vehicles to Hovertravel’s terminal in Southsea later this year allowing those travelling from the Island to also continue their journey seamlessly the other side.
Paul Smith, Enterprise Rent-A-Car General Manager for South Central England, said: “The Isle of Wight is a location where the benefits of Enterprise Car Club really come into their own, allowing people to cross the Solent and have a car waiting the other side – while avoiding the notoriously high costs of taking a vehicle to or from the Island.
“Due to this, the service has proved really popular with Islanders and visitors alike since we launched in East Cowes and Newport in 2017 and as a result, we are expanding to cover more of the Island’s transport hubs. The increased presence of Enterprise Car Club vehicles at the island’s sea terminals also means that fewer visitors need to bring their cars over, reducing vehicle congestion on the Island.”
Neil Chapman, Managing Director of Hovertravel, said, “We fully support Enterprise Car Club’s decision to locate vehicles at the Hovertravel terminal in Ryde. Car clubs are an excellent solution for the ‘last mile’ of a journey, when you’ve come off the hovercraft and you’re trying to get to a business meeting or a friend’s house. It means you can jump in a car when you need to, pay only for what you use, and rest assured that you’re driving away in a low-emission vehicle that is perfect for the job. I regularly use Enterprise Car Club and I’ve been very impressed with how easy it is to use.”
Enterprise Car Club membership is available to anyone 19 years or older and costs from £7 per month or £60 per year. Vehicles are available from £4.95 per hour including VAT and 21p per mile.
Enterprise Car Club uses the latest website and mobile technology to deliver a convenient and user-friendly process for people to apply for membership and then book vehicles. A new driver qualification process also allows applicants to simply upload a ‘selfie’, a picture of their driving licence and to register their payment details to qualify for membership.
Hovertravel will be running to timetable for all the D-DAY75 commemorative events next week, with the exception of just two cancelled services and four slightly amended services on Wednesday 5th June.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We appreciate that the Isle of Wight will wish to pay their respects at the commemorative events in Portsmouth and we offer the fastest and closest ferry route across the Solent to Southsea Common, where the majority of events will be taking place.”
In honour of their service, Hovertravel will be boarding veterans first, followed by any serving military personnel and then all other customers for the duration of these events. Pilots will be marking the occasion with special announcements and there will be additional staff in and outside Hovertravel terminals for any customers who might require extra assistance.
Out of the timetabled 70 services on Wednesday, the 11:45 ex Ryde and 12:00 ex Southsea will not run, whilst the 11:15 ex Ryde and 11:30 ex Southsea will both run ten minutes earlier at 11:05 and 11:20 respectively. Finally, the 12:15 ex Ryde and 12:30 ex Southsea will run ten minutes later at 12:25 and 12:40 respectively.
Loretta adds: “On Wednesday afternoon, with two flypasts and the goodbye to the MV Boudicca and then all through to Sunday, the events on Southsea Common are going to be very popular and we will be able to add in extra services as demand dictates.
We have already added an extra service on Saturday 9th June at 22:30 to make sure that customers can enjoy the 15-minute fireworks display on the common which will start at 22:00. Additionally, with several kilometres of bunting strung throughout our terminals and free flags for people to wave, Hovertravel is saying thank you to our D-DAY heroes.”
As well as offering a 75% discount to veterans for the D-Day 75 events Hovertravel is offering 75 free tickets for veterans to travel to the commemorative events. Island residents with Hovertravel Blue cards can use their June 50% discount for these times and 2 adults plus up to 3 children can travel for £30 with the Off Peak family ticket. All details and terms & conditions of each of these offers can be found at the Hovertravel website.
Hovertravel ran three completely full pleasure trips from Lee-on-Solent, at the slipway opposite the Hovercraft Museum, over the recent Bank Holiday weekend.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, says: “Our pleasure trip programme is very successful and with three sold-out trips over this past weekend, demand is booming. Taking our hovercraft to Lee-on-Solent is a treat for us because that is very close to Stokes Bay from where our original service used to run, and we are also giving customers the chance to experience the world’s only year-round commercial passenger hovercraft. We have seen how this experience appeals to people of all ages, looking to enjoy a unique activity.”
The pleasure trips are a 20-minute demonstration of the capabilities of the hovercraft including exercises which show off the amazing manoeuvrability of these 12000TD craft, all accompanied by expert commentary from the pilot. At the end of the pleasure trips customers can meet the pilot and learn what it is like to fly a hovercraft, with its two engines developing up to 2,158 hp and enabling a top speed of 50 knots. There is also the opportunity to look around the craft, seeing how the lightweight aluminium structure has been precision engineered for comfort and aerodynamic efficiency.
Loretta adds: “Our hovercraft are a marvel of British engineering, operating at high speed across one of the busiest stretches of water in the world so we give our customers the chance to chat to our pilots and see where they work by allowing access to the normally closed cockpit.”
Hovertravel has pleasure trips planned on 22 June, 10 August and 15 September from Lee-on-Solent with options to travel from Ryde. To book please call on 01983 717700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the world’s only year-round, scheduled commercial passenger hovercraft service, Hovertravel offers an experience unlike any other ferry company and to celebrate this uniqueness, they are providing stickers and certificates to first-time customers this half-term.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel explains:” We know that, whether you have travelled halfway around the globe or live just ten minutes from our terminal, a hovercraft flight is an exciting experience. We are acknowledging this excitement for our first-time users by providing a fun sticker and an official certificate as a memento.
We are delighted that so far we have had excellent feedback from first-time users of all ages – with mums, dads, grandparents and even great grandparents all keen to proudly wear their stickers.”
Hovertravel’s round sticker shows an illustration of the hovercraft emblazoned with British union flag and surrounded by the text ‘I flew on 12000TD hovercraft today with Hovertravel’.
The certificate also states that the holder has flown on a 12000 TD hovercraft with Hovertravel and is an excellent reminder of the customer’s first flight.
Loretta add: “Customers have told us that our certificates are being framed and displayed for visiting friends and families to see. People choose to fly with us with many reasons and we wanted to celebrate our unique experience with our first-time customers.”
Hovertravel is making it even easier to have a fun family day out by offering free travel for children on all their Summer 2019 excursions to Lee-on-Solent.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We appreciate it can be hard to find things to do with the kids during summer, so we have introduced this new offer aimed at any parents who are looking for a different day trip. The flight to Lee-on-Solent is a quick 15-minute journey and free stickers and certificates make the hovercraft experience even better.”
Once at Lee-on-Solent you can walk across the road to the world’s only hovercraft museum which is celebrating 60 years of hovercraft this year. Their collection includes four hovercraft craft listed on the National Historic Ships’ Register and the hovercraft which featured in the James Bond film ‘Die Another Day’.
There are several coastal walks from the landing point at Lee-on-Solent, with the most scenic traveling east to Stokes Bay providing wide open views across the Solent. Once there you can play adventure golf at the pirate-themed Solent Spring 12 hole, 36 par crazy golf course or keep to a nautical theme with a visit to the Diving Museum, the Submarine Museum or the Museum of Naval Firepower.
This offer is only available for travel from Ryde, for children up to the age of 15 years, on the following dates: 26th & 27th May, 22nd June, 10th August and 15th September 2019. Free child tickets must be booked at the same time as the adult ticket and there is a maximum of two free child tickets per full paying adult. To book, please call 01983 717700 or email email@example.com.
Hovertravel is adding two extra services from Southsea, early in the morning on Sunday 12 May, to help walkers get across to the Isle of Wight in time to start Walk the Wight.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “Our normal Sunday timetable starts from Southsea at 0900 but the team’s dedication and commitment towards our customers, and the Walk the Wight event itself, means that we can run two extra services much earlier.”
Now in its 29th year, Mountbatten’s unique and world-famous walk annually attracts thousands of people to walk across the beautiful Isle of Wight countryside to raise money in support of Islanders facing death, dying and bereavement. With the recommended start time of before 8am for the full walk from Bembridge, Hovertravel’s early services will help transport mainland walkers across the Solent in plenty of time for their marathon-sized stroll.
The extra services will depart at 0615 and 0715 from Hovertravel’s Southsea terminal. To book a seat on one of these additional services, tickets can be purchased online at www.hovertravel.co.uk or at both terminals.
Hovertravel’s HoverCare initiative, which promotes better access for all, has launched a new discounted range of fares for all NHS and primary care workers who wish to commute across the Solent.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, explains: “We have listened to the local community about the requirement for discounted ticket prices for NHS workers. We want to ensure Hovertravel is the first choice of travel for NHS staff who need to travel to and from the Isle of Wight at short notice, and also to assist the NHS Trust with its recruitment drive.”
As well as a significant 20% reduction on the standard day return price, there are also discounts for NHS staff who wish to buy unlimited travel cards ranging from 1 to 12 months or flexible travel cards ranging from 10 to 250 journeys.
Proof of NHS employment must be shown at the time of purchase and all customers will be given a HoverCare card which can be shown when requested in the terminals.
For more details about Hovertravel’s NHS fare click here
Scout Ambassador and actor, Warwick Davis, spent Saturday with 66 scouts chosen from each of the 23 scout troupes on the Isle of Wight.
Warwick was invited to the Isle of Wight by Lady Grylls and visited Hovertravel’s Ryde terminal to meet with the scouts, and to go on board a hovercraft to learn how they work. He also met Imogen Baden Powell, great niece of Robert Baden Powell who founded the Scouting movement over 100 years ago.
Following an introductory chat with the scouts in the terminal, Warwick posed for photographs in front of a hovercraft with the scouts and guests and presented a bravery award to scout Dylan Reeves.
Warwick and the scouts then had a talk from pilot Jock, toured the hovercraft on the pad and were able to look inside the engines, and sit in the cockpit.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, added: “This special Scouts visit marks the start of our relationship with the Scouts Association. Today (Saturday) we are launching our discounted travel for all Scouts, Beavers and Cub groups and offering their volunteers a discount too. We are also proud to be able to say that this visit helps the Scouts gain their Air Activities – Flight Badge.”
Readers of UK newspaper The Guardian have submitted their tips for the best public transport rides in the world and Hovertravel is featured as the second tip.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, says: “We know from our customers that the love and affection for Hovertravel reaches around the world and we are very proud to be featured in a list of such iconic public transport rides. With a journey time of under ten minutes we are certainly not a lengthy experience, but we do work hard to make every minute with us enjoyable.”
The tip from Guardian reader Matthew highlights the speed of the hovercraft and the exciting moment when the craft transitions from land to water, before skimming across the Solent at speeds of up 45 knots, just 1.5 metres above the waves.
There are nine other readers tips featured in the article, ranging from cable cars in Columbia to water buses in Venice – see the complete list here: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/apr/25/10-best-worlds-public-transport-rides-readers-travel-tips
Hovertravel recently operated a charter for the Worshipful the Mayor of Gosport, Councillor Diane Furlong, from the slipway opposite the Hovercraft Museum at Lee-On-Solent. Guests came from across Hampshire to enjoy the unique experience of a private hovercraft charter.
Hovertravel’s regular excursions to Lee-On-Solent have recently made hovercraft a more regular sight for Gosport residents, harking back to the very early days of the company when a seasonal service operated from Stokes Bay to the Isle of Wight.
After arriving on a vintage bus, the Mayor’s guests were welcomed onboard Island Flyer with a short introduction from Hovertravel’s managing director Neil Chapman and a briefing from the pilot, Captain Jock on what to expect during the trip. The hovercraft then departed to demonstrate its manoeuvrability with some 360-degree spins and high-speed turns followed by a deflation and reflation of its skirt, all accompanied by expert commentary from the cockpit.
On the return to Lee-on-Solent, the passengers disembarked and walked across the road to The Hovercraft Museum where they had some refreshments whilst learning about the history of these British invented amphibious vehicles.
Hovertravel has published its 2019 Travel & Attractions guide. Produced as a pocket-sized brochure, this guide contains all the information a visitor using Hovertravel might need.
Loretta Lale, head of commercial at Hovertravel, says: “We regularly consult with our passengers about the type of information they need, and customers tell us that a single pocket-sized guide is what they like. Our 2019 Travel & Attractions brochure includes details of our fares, our combination deals with attractions and other transport plus information about our HoverCare facilities and an easy to use map for reference.”
Additionally, there are some top tips to help customers get the most from their Hovertravel experience, details of forthcoming events across the Solent region and information about Hovertravel’s excursion programme to Lee on Solent. The guide covers attractions and offers for passengers travelling both to and from the Isle of Wight, promoting the best of the Island and Portsmouth.
The 2019 brochure is available now from both terminals and will be distributed nationally via Hovertravel’s network of commercial partners.
Hovertravel staff started their beach clean initiative this week, with a team of seven staff working their way along the shore from the Ryde Hoverport to Ryde Beach.
Julie Horrocks, head of ground operations at Hovertravel, explains: “Following discussions with our teams and having identified a strong commitment to be more involved in keeping the local environment free of waste, including plastic, Hovertravel will be conducting a series of beach cleans throughout the summer.”
Equipped with litter pickers, eco-plastic waste bags and safety gloves, the beach cleaners spread out to search along the shore line for litter. A wide variety of waste was collected including the usual cans, water bottles, crisp packets and a large amount of unidentifiable plastic shards. The team also found frisbees, tennis balls and several lengths of wire and cabling.
Julie adds: “Keeping the seashore clean and collecting rubbish is one way in which Hovertravel can help the local community. Many of the items we found could easily cause injury to people at the beach or damage to boats on the water. We also recognise that with the popularity of the sandy beaches next door to us, we will need to make this a regular activity and we are actively exploring ways to reduce our own waste too.”
Hovertravel welcomed Ryde Inshore Rescue’s mascot Rescue Ronnie to their Ryde terminal today. Go Orange Day is a national event held locally for independent lifeboat units which do not operate under the RNLI. This event is designed to raise the profile of the independent lifeboats country wide while raising vital funds for this much needed local unit.
Everyone at Hovertravel from cashiers to crew and from pilots to product development supported the day to raise awareness of the Independent Lifeboats and the work they do.
Throughout the UK there are around sixty lifeboat units that are not run by the RNLI and every year their volunteer crews respond to pager callouts in an identical way to the RNLI crews. Training is to the same high standard and all rescue craft must adhere to the same strict code as the RNLI. The Independent Units’ hope is that by all celebrating on the same day, they can highlight the number and contribution of non-RNLI units around the country.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel says: “Hovertravel is a long-time supporter of Ryde Inshore Rescue and we have participated in Go Orange Day for many years. By having Rescue Ronnie in our terminal, we are helping to spread awareness of this essential service amongst our younger customers.”
Hovertravel is giving 75 free tickets to Isle of Wight Veterans so they can travel to the DDAY75 events in Southsea between 5th – 9th June and offering a massive 75% discount for all veterans when travelling during the same period from either Ryde or Portsmouth.
In June, Portsmouth will be the focal point for reflection on the events of 1944. Veterans, military personnel and civilians will commemorate those lost and celebrate the achievements of the operation that sailed from Portsmouth 75 years ago. The events will create a momentous occasion to celebrate peace, liberty and reconciliation and they will be focussed on Southsea Common.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explains: “Hovertravel has always supported the serving and retired Armed Forces and for this very special anniversary we wanted to say a huge thank you to those veterans who wish to experience the commemorative events in Southsea and on the Isle of Wight. Being the closest ferry port to Southsea Common and by far the quickest way to cross the Solent makes Hovertravel the most convenient choice for Island veterans.”
Hovertravel will be allocating the free 75 tickets on a first-come first-served basis and Island veterans can apply in the following ways:
• email: firstname.lastname@example.org entering DD75 free Tickets’ in the subject header
• Joint request from a Veterans association – on behalf of members
• Message Hovertravel on Facebook or Twitter @hovertravelltd
• Call 01983 717700 requesting tickets.
Please note: All ID must be confirmed at the booking process and presented at the Boarding Gate when travelling.
Hovertravel operates services from every thirty minutes early morning to late evening with an average crossing time of less than ten minutes. Booking and full details of the DDAY75 discount are available here
As part of World Autism Awareness Week and for World Autism Awareness Day itself, Hovertravel is holding a special open day on Tuesday 2nd April when visitors will be able to meet the staff, crew and pilots of Hovertravel, whilst being hosted by the HoverCare team.
Recent specific additions to the HoverCare facilities have been the introduction of a safe haven in both terminals and the opportunity to borrow ear defenders during the Hovertravel experience.
This ‘try before you fly’ approach has been designed to help customers get the best insight for any future visits and Hovertravel is encouraging visitors to bring their friends and family along too, to try out the hovercraft and learn about the HoverCare services.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “We recognise that we are still evolving our HoverCare services and events such as this give us the chance to better understand the needs of those on the autistic spectrum whilst giving our visitors a behind the scenes tour of our hovercraft, with the opportunity to ask whatever questions they wish. Our Try Before You Fly events are open to anyone whom might want to chat to us about accessibility. “
As well as discovering how simple it is to use the hovercraft for travel between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, all visitors will be given a free ticket for two people and be issued with a HoverCare card.
The hovercraft will be open for all visitors interested in learning more about our accessibility at Southsea 1100-1230 and as space is limited, please register each person attending here:
Hovertravel’s successful user group (HUG) is evolving from a small panel of customers meeting three times per year to an hourly discussion on Twitter held every month and open to all Hovertravel users.
“The HUG started in 2010 and has been very effective in giving us the opportunity to listen and learn from our customers,” explains Julie Horrocks, Hovertravel’s Head of Operations, “The success of the user group has attracted requests from a wide variety of different customers and stakeholders who want to provide their input so we are creating a HUGhour on Twitter to increase participation.”
The HUGhour meetings will be conducted on a dedicated HUG Twitter account (@hovertravelHUG) and aim to be a forum for Hovertravel to receive recommendations for improvements to products and services suggested by users and in turn provide users with regular updates on Hovertravel’s performance.
The dates for the HUG Twitter meetings are:
• 27th March 1pm
• 24th April 1pm
• 29th May 1pm
Julie continues: “If you use Hovertravel and you want to be involved in a constructive dialogue to help make our service better for all customers, we welcome your input.”
For more details about the HUG meetings on Twitter please click here
Last Sunday Hovertravel showed its gratitude to the volunteers who make up the Shaping Portsmouth Ambassadors programme with an extra-special hovercraft experience.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, explained: “The Ambassadors at Shaping Portsmouth give their time for free to engage with the local community and businesses, to drive passion for the city. Their energy and enthusiasm are making a real difference across the city and beyond. Hovertravel wanted to say thank you by inviting them onboard a private charter for some fun on the Solent.”
Starting with an inshore fly-by of Fort Monckton and Fort Gilkicker, the guests were treated to demonstration of the extreme manoeuvrability of the hovercraft with 360 degree spins and then sped on at over 40 knots to fly round No Man’s Fort and Spitbank Fort before returning to Southsea. With the pilots providing an expert commentary during the flight and hosting an informal question and answer session after landing at Southsea, the visitors were given an in-depth insight to Hovertravel’s operation and had the chance to take a selfie with the world’s only year-round commercial hovercraft service.
Shaping Portsmouth Ambassadors are volunteers who live, study or work in the city and want to do something to help their local community and wider City. Ambassadors are invited to regular meetings at a variety of interesting places around the city for an update on the Ambassador project and be kept informed of new developments in the city. If you would like to become a Portsmouth Ambassador, you can find details here.
Hovertravel can organise private charters for groups, associations, clubs or parties. If you would like to find out more about the Hovercraft experience please visit the website here.
This week Hovertravel joined in the celebration of apprentices with a variety of activities for National Apprenticeship Week (NAW 2019). National Apprenticeship Week is coordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.
Hovertravel attended the apprenticeship open day at Havant & South Downs College, taking a team which included one of their current apprentices, a duty manager and the head of operations. This team was able to explain how the apprentice scheme works and the students were able to ask questions of current apprentice.
Shaping Portsmouth is showcasing some of the amazing apprentices in the Portsmouth area with a series of video interviews, designed to reveal exactly what goes on in the daily life of an apprentice. Hovertravel Apprentice Handling Agent Jess was invited to be part of the series and her video will be available here.
93% of those who complete the apprenticeship programme are now place in full time employment with Hovertravel. The company continues to see the value of this program, not only from a reduction in recruitment costs, but in the passion so many of these individuals have brought to our business as well as allowing us the extra manpower to offer additional services to our customers to improve the customer experience.
Hovertravel's apprentices have had several notable successes including running a program of newly introduced excursion trips to the Hovercraft Museum, celebrating the very British invention of the Hovercraft but also creating a business case for a product that continues to grow today. The apprentices have also been deeply involved in initiatives such as HoverCare which is helping to make cross-Solent travel easier for all customers.
Hovertravel is a unique business which offers development opportunities for its apprentices that benefit the company and, just as importantly, provide excellent experience to advance the individuals’ future career aspirations, either at Hovertravel or elsewhere.
Hovertravel is supporting Disabled Access Day 2019 by opening their doors to offer a unique opportunity. On Saturday 16 March 2019 visitors will be able to meet the staff, crew and pilots of Hovertravel, whilst being hosted by their HoverCare Ambassadors.
This ‘try before you fly’ approach has been designed to help customers get the best insight for any future visits and Hovertravel is encouraging visitors to bring their friends and family along too, to try out the hovercraft access and learn about their HoverCare services.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, adds: “The hovercraft will be open for visitors at both Ryde on the Isle of Wight & Southsea in Portsmouth. It is also a great opportunity to share your experiences with our staff so we can further enhance our services, ensuring we are helping all to travel more easily.”
The hovercraft will be open for visitors as follows; at Ryde from 1000 to 1130 and at Southsea 1200-1330.
As well as discovering how simple it is to use the hovercraft for travel between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, all visitors will be given a free ticket for two people and be issued with a HoverCare card.
Hovertravel welcomed visitors to their Time for a Cuppa Pop-up Café at their Ryde Terminal to raise awareness and funds as part of the tenth anniversary of this worthy initiative. They raised a fantastic £200 for more families across the Isle of Wight to access the unique and specialist help of an Admiral Nurse.
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, says: “We must thank Tesco Extra, French Franks and Grace's Bakery who donated very popular cakes and to 1st Brading Scouts for helping make this event possible.
We also say huge congratulations to Dementia UK for reaching its 10th year of Time for a Cuppa. To be able to bake until we dropped for such a fantastic cause was amazing and we hope that the money raised will help more families access the lifeline that Admiral Nurses bring.”
Admiral Nurses provide the specialist dementia support that families need. When things get challenging or difficult, they work alongside families affected by dementia, giving them one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions, helping families face dementia with more confidence and less fear.
Dementia UK is on target to have 300 Admiral Nurses by 2020 working out in the community as well as in care homes, hospitals, hospices and on the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline.
To celebrate the arrival of their new vehicle and the success of the appeal, the charity hosted a thank-you event for all supporters, including Hovertravel, at the charity’s support centre in Lugley Street, Newport.
Grant funding has enabled Wessex Cancer Trust to buy a new Daisy Bus – which has funding secured into 2020 – thanks to incredible fundraising efforts of individuals, groups and businesses on the Island.
Barry Ronaldi, from the Wessex Cancer Trust, said: “For us as a charity, we are so proud to be helping residents of the Island. It means patients now don’t have to worry if the bus will arrive. We must say a big thanks to everyone who has supported – especially the Isle of Wight Freemasons, Hovertravel and the Lions Club. We are very grateful for all of the support receive – it is vital.”
The Island’s Freemasons and the IW Prostate Cancer Support Group raised thousands towards the appeal, alongside Hovertravel, which has donated 10% of its ticket fares from patients travelling across the water.
Neil Chapman, Managing Director of Hovertravel, said: “We are proud to be supporting such a vital link for Island cancer patients. We are always looking to make travelling across the Solent as easy as possible.”
Wessex Cancer Trust’s CEO, Cait Allen, said: “Being able to purchase a new minibus will help reduce our ongoing costs significantly while also providing a more comfortable experience for patients travelling to the mainland for treatment. We have much to celebrate and we’d love everyone that has supported the appeal to join us next Wednesday so we can say thank you in person.”
To maintain the future of the service for years to come, the charity is planning to host a dedicated Daisy Day annually.
You can have the world’s only scheduled passenger hovercraft service as part of your wedding. Hovertravel has a range of options from group discounts on its timetabled operation to a full private charter.
“Using a hovercraft as part of your big day is a great way to add something unique to your wedding,” says Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, “our hovercraft are so different and everyone loves the thrill of travelling across the water on a cushion of air.”
Hovertravel speeds across the water at up to 45 knots and glides effortlessly on to land, creating an unforgettable experience for up to 78 passengers per craft. With the short ten-minute crossing time from Southsea to Ryde you could even consider getting married in Portsmouth and having a reception on the Isle of Wight! Or choose the hovercraft to start your honeymoon on the Island.
For an added touch of exclusivity, you can book your own private charter which can depart and arrive at our existing hover ports in Southsea and Ryde, as well as other locations on request including Lee on Solent and selected Isle of Wight beaches. Imagine having complete use of a hovercraft just for your guests and landing on a sandy beach! Or maybe arrange to have your speeches delivered floating in the middle of the Solent.
Loretta adds: “When you charter our hovercraft, you get a full complement of crew and a pilot. We can help you design your own itinerary, which can include the opportunity to hover around the Solent for sightseeing as well as whisking your wedding guests to your reception.”
Please email email@example.com to discuss your requirements.
Hovertravel committed to 15 hours of pedalling as their latest fund-raising initiative for Dementia UK Isle of Wight Admiral Nurses. Starting at 0615 in the morning and running continuously during Hovertravel’s hours of operation until 2115, pilots, engineers, crew members, cashiers, duty managers, alongside members of the finance, HR and commercial departments all cycled for charity.
During the morning Mr Alf Holman, 95, of the Briars Care Home in Sandown jumped on the bike and showed everyone how it was done!
Loretta Lale, Head of Commercial at Hovertravel, explains,” We want to be fully involved with our chosen charity for 2019 and all the team love to participate in this type of fund-raising activity. By holding a continuous cyclethon in our terminal we are spreading the message about Admiral Nurses to our customers and putting our commitment on show.”
Hovertravel is raising these funds to support the provision of Admiral Nurses on the Isle of Wight and raise awareness of these specialist professionals who provide support, expert guidance and practical solutions.
By placing the charity’s branding in key marketing locations such as terminal screens, craft screens and as advertising banners in customer emails, Hovertravel will promote this worthy cause to their passengers, who have always proved to be generous in their support for local charities.