20 years of experience days and memories

1996 Nostalgia and IntoTheBlue’s 20th Birthday

Happy 20th birthday to us! Celebrating 20 years of experience days and activity gift vouchers in 2016, we thought we’d take a little look at those early days of Into The Blue and what else was happening at the time in 1996.

Think back to 1996. As Sally Best was buying the very first Into The Blue gift voucher (a trial flying lesson at Biggin Hill, as it happens), the Spice Girls were number one in the charts with their first single ‘Wannabe’. This was the soundtrack to the sizzling summer of 1996, along with Peter Andre who showed us his six pack and sang about his ‘Mysterious Girl’.

Peter Andre's 1996 hit Mysterious Girl

Oi, Pete! Put ’em away will you! Thankfully it’s not 1996 anymore…

The very first vouchers we produced were hand-written, but before you think that sounds really antiquated, this is at a time when just 4% of the population had internet access. And Japan had just launched the world’s very first new-fangled DVDs.

And to put prices at the time into perspective, the average cost of a house was £69,000 and a litre of petrol at the pumps was just 59p. At this point we’d like to say that in 2016 we’re pretty sure our experience days haven’t doubled in price!

As we all watched those work hard, party harder lawyers in TV’s ‘This Life’, danced the Macarena, read Bridget Jones’s Diary, played on the Nintendo 64 and tried to keep those silly Tamagotchi things alive, we were forging our way into the experience day market, specialising in flying activities.

This Life the BBC's seminal show of the 90s

This Life – work hard, party hard lawyers in the BBC’s hit TV show of the late 90s

As 1996 continued, we all worried about Mad Cow Disease and stared agog at pictures of Dolly the Sheep in the news – the world’s first cloned mammal. England hosted the UEFA Euro Championships and despite Baddiel & Skinner and the Lightning Seeds coming up with the storming ‘Three Lions’ anthem, the host nation went out in the semi-finals against Germany…on penalties (Gareth Southgate’s shot was saved). Some things never change do they?

England football team song for Euro '96

Baddiel, Skinner and Lightning Seeds sang for Euro ’96…but it didn’t help

But at Into The Blue things were evolving nicely, with the additions of driving, water, outdoor and gourmet sections of the website. And you’ll be pleased to hear, we moved from those handwritten vouchers to computer generated ones in 1998.

This was a pre-cursor to the launch of the intotheblue.co.uk website in 1999. We stopped printing the mail order catalogue in 2002 and it was full steam ahead with expanding the product range. By 2005 we could count over 500 experiences on the books.

Fast forward to 2016 and we’ve launched the responsive website and we have a gift portfolio of over 1500 experiences and activities from a network of over 650 different suppliers (including the very same Biggin Hill flying school for whom we sold that very first voucher!). We can count a team of 20 full and part-time staff, producing over 50,000 vouchers a year. Not bad for a family-owned and run company that started as an off shoot of the famous Biggin Hill International Air Fairs!

Biggin Hill school working with us since 1996

Trial flying lessons at Biggin Hill – our first ever voucher sold

If you want to read more about how we developed from putting on world-class air shows to making memories for thousands of you every year, take a look at the ‘About us’ page on our website for the full low-down that’s steeped in aviation history at Biggin Hill.

Into the Blue team 2016

And here’s the Intotheblue team in 2016 at our new offices

Our fly2help Announcement

Here at Intotheblue.co.uk we are delighted to announce a new exciting partnership with fly2help. For years, we have been one of the largest suppliers of aviation experiences in the industry. And we’ve been long time admirers of this particular charity.


fly2help airsmiles project

Members of the Airsmiles Program

On a daily basis fly2help brings joy to friends and families alike. They have two important initiatives. One is through their Air Smiles programme, which gives people living with life trauma an exciting air experience day, centred around a short flight in a light aircraft – An area where we felt we could use our influence in the industry in the hope to spread the cause.

The other programme which is also equally as admirable is Aim High: An incredible initiative to encourage young people to consider and hopefully take up a career in aviation. There’s no question about how important it is to guide and inspire young minds. And who better than a charity who lives and breathes the industry to provide a gateway to improve the lives in an area which is limited to access for many?

For me, fly2help demonstrates an important characteristic that is often overlooked: To provide love through new experiences to individuals who need it most. This is something we as a company also see as a vital characteristic in how we can provide the best service for our customers.

airsmiles project 2014

I’d like to take this opportunity to explain what I have learnt about fly2help in recent months. They have a dedicated team who will commit everything to the cause. I always find the most important asset in life is time. These people, headed by CEO Felicia Willow, contribute their time to help families and young people alike; something we should all recognise and applaud.

They have upcoming events if you’re interested in helping the cause. Gloucestershire Airport is hosting a hangar party on 24 July 2015 – should you like Hot Roasts and Live Music, then why not go along to enjoy the day? Tickets are available directly from the airport.

In addition for you fitness fanatics, why don’t you create a team and join the Weekend Cycle Challenge? This will be held on the weekend of 5/6 September 2015 and will see ten teams cycle from Farnborough Airport to Biggin Hill, Gatwick Airport, Shoreham Airfield and back to Farnborough, clocking up 155 miles in the process.

If you are interested in the cycle challenge, please contact fly2help on either 01285770821 or email info@fly2help.org.

If you would love to help but don’t have the time to attend the up and coming events, donations are very welcomed – all the relevant details are attached at the bottom.

In the short time of knowing them, I truly believe fly2help represents all that is good in the world and producing some great memories for those who deserve it most. From all of us here at IntotheBlue.co.uk, Thank You.

Furthermore I’d like to thank Felicia Willow for first of all agreeing to IntotheBlue being associated with such an incredible charity. We hope to do you proud not in just raising and assisting the charity in raising more funding for it projects but also reminding us that life is there for living and to be happy. And the fly2help team certainly do that.


You will find fly2help’s website HERE

In addition should you wish to make a donation to this incredible cause please do to their fly2help Virgin Money Giving Page

the fly2help team

Please Contribute to a Wonderful Cause

Thank you for reading if you have any questions about this piece please don’t hesitate to contact me at caroline@intotheblue.co.uk, Caroline.


Our new e-commerce solution is here!

Our all singing, all dancing new checkout pages at Intotheblue.co.uk

Our all singing, all dancing new checkout pages at Intotheblue.co.uk

If you’re a seasoned Into the Blue client, you might well have noticed that our checkout and payment procedures have recently changed. Now, when you buy a voucher from Intotheblue.co.uk, you have just three steps in the one basket page before you head directly to the payment page – quicker, easier and clearer.

These changes came about because we listened to what you had to say about our website. You told us that you found the checkout process too long, some said it wasn’t easy to enter a different delivery address to the billing address and others said they couldn’t get their credit card to be accepted.

That’s where Datacash came in. In the run up to the Christmas rush, we wanted to resolve these issues and make sure we were offering the best possible customer service, so we approached Datacash and asked them for a bespoke payment processing solution that was efficient, great value and delivered in less than a month (no pressure then eh?!).

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