Icelandair has launched its new service, Stopover Buddy, which aims to defeat holidaymaker overspend and immerse visitors in Icelandic culture.
On a transatlantic stopover, members of the airline team including stewardesses, pilots and even the CEO of Icelandair will be up for grabs upon landing, as personal, local Buddies offering a rare glimpse into the ‘real’ Iceland.
A new global study of holidaymakers, conducted by Icelandair, found the tide is turning for the larger tourist attractions in favour of smaller, hidden haunts only known to locals. The survey saw 23% of (Brits) prefer to soak up the local atmosphere over sightseeing however, a further 39% said they felt they’d never actually been able to fully immerse themselves in a local culture whilst abroad, a growing desire indicative of a wider global trend; holidaying like a local.
The Icelandair study also revealed that 72% of (UK) holidaymakers feel self conscious due to “looking like a tourist” in foreign countries. 46% have been left red-faced because they couldn’t speak the local language, while one in eight have been so confused they ordered the wrong thing at a restaurant. 4% admit they’d been caught out wearing the classic tourist piece of kit, the bumbag and 7% said they’d driven on the wrong side of the road. This lack of knowledge has also been pulling on our purse strings. As a nation we (Brits) overspend by a whopping £17.21 billion per year due to a lack of local knowledge about where to eat, stay or how best to get about.
Birkir Hólm Guðnason, CEO at Icelandair, commented: “As the findings show, people want to experience local culture and unique adventures over anything else whilst on holiday. However, we are more time-pressured than ever these days and people can’t spend hours researching the best things to do and places to go. We are thrilled to be able to offer a service to our guests that remove these stresses. We have worked closely with our colleagues on the Stopover Buddy service, discovering their interests, hobbies and unrivalled local knowledge which will make for some truly unique and personalised experiences. These friendly and warm individuals, who are keen to open up their lives to our passengers, will show them a really great, authentic time in Iceland during their transatlantic stopover.”
Birkir, 41, is himself taking part in the Buddy service offering passengers, lucky enough to be matched with him, off-piste skiing. Visitors could also be paired with Margret, 64, a stewardess of 30 years who is an expert on geothermal springs. Or enjoy a cooking lesson in traditional Icelandic fish dishes with stewardess, Inga, 45, who can introduce visitors to the local fishermen. Passengers wanting to keep active on their Stopover may find themselves on a running or cycling tour with fitness fan, Dagur, 51, who has worked in Icelandair’s IT department for 20 years. More adventurous guests can spend time with pilot, Sigrun, 44, whose passion is racer biking down icy mountains.