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Travel Republic offer discounts to those unwelcome at Activities Abroad

February 7th, 2009 by Carol Ferndale · 22 Comments

Calis Beach. By Carol Ferndale.

If you feel that your given name makes you unwelcome with holiday firm Activities Abroad (if you’re not up to speed with this, see my previous post Green adventure holiday company claims its holidays are “chav-free”), then Travel Republic are welcoming you with a cool 10% discount on your holiday, which in these times of economic doom and gloom will help ease the pressure on the coffers.

In response to Alistair McLean’s proud boast that people with names such as Britney, Kylie, Bianca, Tiffany, Dazza, Chardonnay, Chantelle, Candice, Courtney and Shannon do not go on an Activities Abroad holiday, you may well not want to book with that company if your name is one of the above.

Online travel giant Travel Republic has slammed Activities Abroad for its snobby stance on names, with managing director Paul Furner saying: “For a business to come out publicly, with such blatantly biased and offensive comments, and to describe their holidays as ‘chav free’, is simply outrageous.

“We actively encourage bookings from everyone, irrespective of their name and its perceived social standing.

“In fact we’re delighted to have 1600 Shannons, 1100 Courtneys, 600 Chantelles, 500 Kylies, 400 Tiffanys, 300 Candices and 200 Britneys on our database, and to have two Candices, a Chantelle and a Dazza among our staff.”

In an attempt to offer some comfort to those affected by the blatant insult from Alistair McLean, Travel Republic is offering a 10% discount on hotel bookings made by customers with one of the ten names identified by Activities Abroad. You’ll have to be quick because the offer ends at midnight on Wednesday February 11th. To take advantage of the discount, you need to enter the Promotional Code DAZZA when booking.

Well done, Travel Republic – a company I would be happy to take a holiday with.

Tags: General

22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 James Stirling // Feb 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    This is a very neat move on the part of Travel Republic.

    I hope Alistair McLean takes on board the fact that a lot of people with those names are working for Travel Republic, and that they are highly unlikely to be the shell-suited, cigarette-sucking types of his fevered imagination.

    I notice that McLean has had a few slaps on the back from people such as commentators in the Daily Mail, but he may bear in mind that these are hardly the people to be going on an adventure holiday, nor are they likely to be interested in green tourism or altruism - which is the image that Activities Abroad was trying to present to the world.

    Basically, they created a viable image for themselves, and then totally shattered it with one incredibly stupid email.

  • 2 Alistair McLean // Feb 8, 2009 at 11:28 am

    This week our sales are up by nearly 30% on last year.


    Alistair McLean
    Activities Abroad

  • 3 James Stirling // Feb 11, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    This surprises me, but fair enough, if that’s the case, then that’s the case.

    So perhaps this is a new way of conducting PR? “Doing an Alistair McLean”? We could call it McLeanism. We could say that someone is being McLeanist.

    I’m wondering what else this method could be applied to.

  • 4 marianne // Feb 12, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Do all the new customers have acceptable names? Were they name-vetted first?

  • 5 Carol Ferndale // Feb 12, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    @ Alistair: Thanks for letting us know …

    So, with hindsight, if you had the past few months over again, would you do the same thing, or perhaps do things differently?

  • 6 steve_b // Feb 13, 2009 at 9:10 am

    I think shell suits went out of fashion years ago tbh. They were replaced by sportswear.

  • 7 Alistair McLean // Feb 15, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Hi Carol

    Please ask me again in a few months.

    The names on our recent reservations were not vetted and if your correspondent took the time to read what was said she would know that we have never barred or banned anybody. The simple fact is that nobody with any of those names has ever, ever booked with us. We did check first.

    I hope you enjoy your trips to Magaluf with Travel Republic because this is the real hypocrisy of this whole episode. The “Chavs” couldn’t give a damn about it. It’s the Umbria visiting “do-good bloggers” who are up in arms. They wouldn’t be seen dead in Magaluf.

    There! I finally rose to the bait because my three year old son has been in our bed since 2am and I don’t recall getting a wink of sleep.

    Incidentally, the ASA received five complaints about the newsletter but found no problem with it. Essentially they said it would not appeal to a small number of people (they didn’t actually use the word humourless but that was the implication) and that more or less sums up the responses I’ve received from around the globe (remarkably).

    Lastly, can I put one more thing straight. This wasn’t all free PR for us as has been widely reported. No, it cost us £200 to increase the bandwidth on our website because it couldn’t handle the number of visitors.

    If you enjoy it then keep blogging. I’m off to make the kids’ breakfast.


    Alistair McLean

  • 8 Carol Ferndale // Feb 20, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Hi Alistair

    Nice of you to drop by. Sorry to hear that your sleep was somewhat disturbed. In our house it’s our kitten that does the disturbing when he goes on his 4.0 am shenanigans of climbing the furniture.

    I think it is possible that the commenter in question was being ironical when she asked if the names were vetted. :)
    I haven’t been to Magaluf yet, but have certainly been to a lot of the other top holiday spots on packages - places such as San Antonio on Ibiza, Playa del Ingles on Gran Canaria, Torremolinos on the Costa del Sol, and a couple of the resorts of the Fethiye area in Turkey, namely, Ovacik and Calis Beach. The other budget holidaymakers I came across there were perfectly ordinary, well-behaved people, who wanted a pleasant sunny break on a budget. The only two people I met wearing sportswear and baseball caps were on their way to see the ancient city of Ephesus - hardly blinged up boozers.

    You say that “the chavs couldn’t give a damn about it” , but wasn’t it people with those very names that were the most vociferous in their objections?

    I’m not sure that I would be described as a do-good blogger, but that’s a matter of opinion.

    I didn’t realise that complaints had reached the ASA - you mean the Advertising Standards Authority? Blimey, don’t you think five complaints is actually quite a lot?

    Interesting that you seem to reckon that the complainants are humourless. I think some “jokes” are actually insults dressed up as humour, particularly insults based around prejudice. There’s certainly no reason why everyone should find the same thing funny, and humour is by no means uniform.

    I think what got people’s backs up was the idea that people with certain names are a certain way, and that didn’t really chime well with the company’s claims to altruism. It kind of went against the grain of the image you seemed to be trying to promote.

    For those who want to read an interesting take on this issue and green issues in general, there is a good article at Spiked by Brendan O’Neill, who argues that there is a certain snobbery underlying the notion of green tourism. He has argued this case elsewhere, and I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, but some of his points in this article are pertinent.


    Carol Ferndale

  • 9 Alistair McLean // Feb 22, 2009 at 10:47 am

    If you’ve been to all those places why don’t you write about them?

    As I said it’s sheer hypocrisy. You write about Ankora, the last train to Lhasa, Christmas markets in Tallin. Not the most Kylie-Lianne Travel Republic destinations I can think off.

    Incidentally, Travel Republic’s MD is being prosecuted by the CAA. The case is due in court next month. I’m not saying guilty until proven innocent but having worked for the CAA, I know that they never take this sort of action without a high degree of certainty.

    But Travel Republic are whiter than white aren’t they? We’ll see.

    I rather suspect you would enjoy reading Zoe Williams in the Guardian. One of my “supporters” drew my attention to her ludicrous attempt to be “middle class but down with the kids”. It’s laughable. It was people called Zoe and Carol who got most vociferous, I heard very little from the rest.

    And these were exactly the liberal sensibilities that we tried to upset because we knew that would get us the publicity. Somebody wrote about the power of the blog working against us. It actually worked exactly as we had planned.

    In terms of altruism, we do as much as we possibly can, check out

    Who would I rather support, two orphaned Zulu kids who want to be teachers or nurses or two street corner chavs who want to take the state for every penny? Absolutely no contest and that is why I pay via my company to support the orphanage and two of the children.

    Best of all, we pay our suplliers a fair price and that is what does the most for any community or local economy. I could tell you a lot of home truths about “Responsible Tourism” and the companies who promote themselves as such. It’s pure marketing spiel and a disgrace.

    And lastly, we had a 94.7% overall satisfaction rating from our clients last year. In this day and age, that is miraculous. So, while you may think we got our marketing wrong, not much else goes amiss.

  • 10 Mark H // Feb 22, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I find it interesting that Alistair McLean considers that playing to peoples prejudice and the using of stereotypes is a legitimate marketing tool.

    I wonder what sort of holidays he would advertise if no-one with the names Abraham, Isaac, Ruth or Mary used his firm.

  • 11 Alistair McLean // Feb 22, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    @ Mark H

    Somebody (JOKINGLY) sent me a card the other day with a picture of somebody shooting Chavs. The card was purchased at Sainsbury. Of you go and condemn them too please. And the BBC for showing Little Britain. Shall I go on?

    I suggest you get over it, the Advertising Standards Authority didn’t have a problem with our marketing probably because it doesn’t really matter. If I were you, I’d try getting out a bit more.

  • 12 Mark H // Feb 22, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Alistair McLean , I certainly will object to that type of card.

    As for the rest of your comment it mirrors the same excuses given to those who disliked programmes such as “Love Thy Neighbour” in the 1970’s and those who defended so called comedians such as Bernard Manning.

    The powers that be had no problems with them in their time. May be some of us have matured since then.

  • 13 Alistair McLean // Feb 22, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Oh for God’s sake! You weren’t the person who accused me of being anti-Dewsbury because we included the name Shannon are you?

    Enjoy your onslaught on Sainsbury, I’m sure it gives you a focus in life. And, if you really, really mean business then you could pehaps go so far as to write them a very stern letter. That’ll get them quaking.

    The rest of us will get on with living in the real world.

  • 14 Mark H // Feb 23, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Alistair McLean, no I am not the person who has accused you of being anti Dewsbury.

    I notice that once again you have not answered any of the substansive points that I have made in my posts (#10 & #11), so I will ask again.

    Do you believe that playing to peoples prejudices, and the using of stereotypes is a legitimate marketing tool?

    As for “living in the real world”, as far as I’m aware apart from a few people living on the space station we all live in the same world. For some, however, that world is marred by prejudice and stereotyping that makes their lives more difficult.

  • 15 Alistair McLean // Feb 23, 2009 at 9:55 am

    This is a wind up right?

    If not, then to answer your question. I fail to see why anybody of any class should pay taxes and contribute to our society in order to fund the free-loaders. In my real world, the council has to hire taxis to take kids to school because their parents can’t be bothered to do it themselves, kids sit on street corners smoking dope, drinking, swearing and know they can’t be touched by the police because people like you believe they should be treated with kid gloves.

    Well I’ll tell you one home truth Mark H. These kids might not get any moral guidance but they know the difference between right and wrong, legal and illegal, honest and dishonest, respect and disrespect and they blissfully ignore it.

    So, if my clients want to avoid that sort of person (apologies if I’m stereotyping) then I’m proud to advertise that they are unlikely to meet them on an Activities Abroad holiday.

    And, judging by the surge in bookings recently, so do my clients.

    That hurts doesn’t it?

  • 16 Mark H // Feb 23, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Alistair McLean, no this is not a wind up.

    As for your description of the area that you live in it sounds terrible. I am sorry that you are unable to move out to a better place. You are right I do not live in your world, I have lived on council estates all my life and I certainly have never experienced the things that you describe go on in your neighbourhood. But as you say that is the fault of the people that live there, a decent community requires people in it that will work to make it that way, instead of complaining about how bad it is and doing nothing.

    As for treating people that harm society with kid gloves I don’t know where you got that from. I believe that such individuals should be punished to the full extent of the law. Whether it be for crimes of violence or defrauding the exchequer.

    I find it interesting though that you can accurately predict a persons behaviour and attitudes based soley on their name , and that you can confidently state that all individuals with that name are the same.

    Perhaps you can point me towards the properly peer reviewed scientific research that you base your conclusions on.

  • 17 Alistair McLean // Feb 23, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    See? I was right. You need to get out a bit more then your blinkered eyes might be opened to what’s going on on our streets.

  • 18 Mark H // Feb 24, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Alistair McLean, I think that you have misunderstood my post(#16) .

    I have lived in amongst other areas Balsall Heath (Birmingham) and Chapeltown (Leeds) neither of which are particularly salubrious. However I have never lived in a community divided by bigotry and prejudice such as the one that you live in.

    As you say though this is the fault of the members of that community, especially those who are dishing out the prejudice. When people are treated with comtempt they tend to react to it.

    However once again you have refused to answer the substansive part of my post (#16) which is in the last two (2) paragraphs of said post. May I assume that you have no evidence and that your statements are based on nothing more than your own blind prejudices?

    I will also ask once again the other question that you have not answered from my post (#14).

    Do you believe that playing to peoples prejudices, and the using of stereotypes is a legitimate marketing tool?

  • 19 Alistair McLean // Feb 24, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Bye Mark, I’ve got far more important things to do.

    For example, I’ve just set up a group dedicated to Pancakes and their Fillings on Facebook.

  • 20 Mark H // Feb 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Bye Al, I accept that to you pancake fillings are far more important than business ethics.

    But don’t forget that chavs also eat pancakes!

  • 21 Carol Ferndale // Mar 13, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    In relation to Comment # 9:

    I certainly do write about popular package holiday resorts, on this and other websites.

    I have written about the great clubbing scene on Ibiza: “Ibiza – clubbing heaven”. I have written about cheap deals in the article “An early Easter …”, including Gran Canaria and Tenerife. I’ve written about “A Winter Escape to the Costa del Sol”, and I’ve certainly written loads about the Fethiye area in Turkey, including how to get a good deal: “Tips for Turkey: board basis and a good deal”.

    My point in mentioning visits to the popular resorts is that holidaymakers on a budget are ordinary people who need to save a bit of cash, not the wild demons portrayed by some.

    Additionally, taking a package to the popular resorts does not preclude activities and adventure: our stay in Calis Beach included a thrilling trek up Saklikent Gorge, a visit to traditional Turkish baths and a fascinating walk around the deserted ghost town of Kayakoy. Our stay near Torremolinos included wonderful walks along the coast, and a fabulous trip to Morocco. In Gran Canaria we went on an amazing trek along the sand dunes which was like walking in the Sahara, there were loads of fine walks to be had along the coast, and we also explored the old Canarian inland town of Teror. As for Ibiza, we found that even near San Antonio you could walk for miles along the coast and see few other people.

    This blog does not aim to cover one particular type of holiday. It is not aimed at a particular type of traveller or holidaymaker, nor at a particular budget. I will happily cover all topics related to travel and holidays, including posh, backpacker and budget. From top hotels to hostels and camping. From quick breaks to serious cultural exchange. From adventurous activities to a bit of decadent relaxation and pampering.

    I would love to get more press releases from the budget end, but the fact is that the more upmarket operators tend to be better at getting their press releases out, no doubt because they can afford excellent PR. So if you run a hostel, a campsite, a budget holiday firm, cultural exchange activities, or any travel related business, I would be happy to get your press releases. See my About for the email addy to send them to.

  • 22 Alistair McLean // Apr 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Before proudly booking with travel Republic please check thgat you are financially protected.

    Innocent until proven guilty of course but having worked for the CAA I know that prosecutions are few and far between. They are usually on pretty solid ground.

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