Lindblad Expeditions has limited impact when it comes to the coronaivrus outbreak and scare, according to company executives speaking on its fourth quarter and year-end earnings call on Tuesday.
The brand only has one small chartered ship in Asia, with most itineraries already taking place.
Sven-Olof Lindblad, founder, CEO, president and director, said that less than 1 percent of guests are sourced from China company-wide.
“However, we do understand that this is an issue of both reality and perception, so there will be some indirect impact,” he said. “This situation is not unique, frankly. And we have faced many situations like this before, SARS, terrorism, war and financial crisis. In each instance, there’s a similar pattern: relatively few cancellations, a lull in future bookings anytime plus or minus a month, followed by a robust return to normal. We don’t see why this should be any different. And February is on track to be as productive, slightly increased over last February, so we’re not seeing any decline in business to date.”
The company’s founder also underscored the primary mission of the brand is to avoid crowds and focus on nature. Plus, carrying educated, savvy clientele, those customers will have the right perception on the situation, he said.
CFO Craig Felenstein said that bookings in January were up 50 percent year-on-year, but there was what he described as some “choppiness” in February.
“Yesterday (Monday, Feb. 24) actually, into itself, is a prime example. Yesterday was one of the best days we’ve had. Bookings were really strong across the board not just for the new ships but also the returning fleet. So we continue to see strength pretty much, I would say, on a consistent basis,” he noted.
“That said, there are pockets of slightly higher cancellations in any given day. We are starting to see bookings, I would say, a little bit further out in the year for travel later in 2020 as opposed to earlier in 2020, more than we had seen previously. But all in all, we’re seeing a pretty consistent trend with bookings over the last couple of weeks that we saw earlier in the year.”