A family-run coach firm set up a century ago has experienced one of its most ‘challenging’ years.
The transport industry has been severely affected by the numerous lockdowns and tier systems put in place following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March.
Meir firm, Copelands Tours, has been unable to carry on with business as usual, such as taking customers on day excursions and holidays.
Managing director Pam Burn, who celebrated 50 years at the firm last year, says that 2020 has been a ‘very traumatic and challenging’ year.
“We have faced challenges like most businesses,” she added. “But these have enforced a pressure and loss of work that we have never experienced in our 100 years of trading in the transport industry.
“Our industry has been severely affected since March and this impact has given many coach operators no choice than to cease trading.
“Since March, we have remained open, working with skeleton staff and like any family, we have all missed being together.
“Even though our work has been virtually absorbed by the virus, schemes such as the furlough schemes have enabled us to carry on.
“During these times, it can be difficult to pull the positive from a negative situation. But here at Copelands, we have managed to do this.”
Copelands customers were informed of any cancellations and issued with a refund within a week – or they were given the opportunity to transfer their booking to another holiday of their choice.
“Back in March, when we were faced with the first lockdown, we lost all of our private hire work,” added Pam.
“As things eased, we introduced our ‘stay safe travel safe’ policy, which created customer positivity and enabled us to provide some day trips from July to September, and some holidays throughout August and September.
“We stayed in regular contact with our passengers via social media or by phone to retrieve feedback.
“With sadness, in October, we were faced with the second lockdown, which forced us to once again cease our holiday and day excursion programmes.”
The placement of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire under Tier 3 restrictions has meant that sadly Copelands had to cancel the remainder of its programmes for this year.
But Pam said: “All is not lost though as this has now enabled us to launch our 2021 brochure a little earlier than we would have normally.
“As soon as it is possible, we have a new day excursion programme ready to go, too.
“We have received good, positive feedback about our holiday programme from our customers who have received it so far, which is very welcoming, and we thank everybody who has continued to book with us during these unprecedented times.
“We are looking forward to getting our customers back out and about once more. But we can only do this when it is safe to do so, and we will continue to work in line with Government guidelines.
“We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and we’re looking forward to 2021 together.”
You can find out more about Copelands Tours on the company’s website.