Press Releases 2020
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 contact us.
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 email@example.com
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.