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News 27.10.16 OTA TAKEOVER


Truly snaps up Alpharooms in ‘exciting deal’


TELETEXT HOLIDAYS parent company Truly Holdings has bought OTA Alpharooms for an undisclosed sum. Alpharooms, which owns trade site betabeds.com, will operate as a separate brand and combined with Teletext will carry more than 850,000 passengers. An industry source told TTG:


“Alpharooms had been available to sell for a while. It had a multi-million pound VAT dispute which left it facing difficulties after a tough trading year and it needed to renew its Atol, and therefore it is perceived in the marketplace that Truly picked it up for a song.” The source cited Alpharoom’s


“long Google history” and the overlaps it has with the destinations in which Truly Group operates as reasons for the purchase’s appeal. Truly Travel’s commercial director


Peter Panteli said: “This is a very exciting deal, which overnight more than doubles the group’s hotel buying power. Teletext is focused on the call-to-book market and Alpharooms in the online sector, giving us confidence that the expansion of both brands moving forward will come at the expense of our competitors.”


UK CLOSURE


Atlantic stops taking new UK bookings


ATLANTIC HOLIDAYS, the independent Portugal specialist, has stopped taking UK bookings despite renewing its Atol in September. Atlantic is a subsidiary of


Portugal’s Pestana Hotels Group, which has a portfolio of 42 hotels, 10 resorts and other travel interests including golf courses, agencies and tour operations in Portugal, Africa and South America. The brand


04 27.10.2016 Atlantic is part of Pestana Hotels Group


is also joint owners with the Portuguese government of 40 historic pousada properties. The group’s UK office offered only


NEW CRUISE LINE


Can Virgin Voyages win over trade after operator’s direct move?


VIRGIN’S NEW cruise venture has confirmed it will be looking to work with UK agents, despite sister company Virgin Holidays’ decision to turn its back on the trade last year, writes Gary Noakes. Virgin Voyages revealed last week


that it had placed an order with Fincantieri shipyard for three mid-sized vessels, with the first based in Miami from 2020. The 110,000-tonne ships will carry


2,700 passengers and 1,150 crew, and will cost a total of £1.63 billion. Virgin Voyages’ chief executive and


president Tom McAlpin told TTGthe new line would “definitely work with travel professionals”, and that it saw them “as an important option for our [customers].” McAlpin added: “We haven’t set


an on-sale date yet. We will start to release more information on the proposition late next year.” He added that Virgin was also planning to join Clia in the US “as a first step”. Virgin Voyages looks set to face


opposition from agents in the UK however, with many still angry about Virgin Holidays’ move to direct sell in October 2015. TTG’s Top 50 Travel Agencies overall winner Nicole Eaves, owner of


Tom McAlpin and Richard Branson launched the venture with typical Virgin aplomb


Garstang Travel, said: “Will we want to support their cruise product? At this moment my answer has to be no. “We’ve all survived without them


[Virgin Holidays] for a year and managed to switch-sell successfully. The question is will they survive without us?” Graham Dullop, director of Cruise


Club International, said Virgin Voyages could only have gone direct “for a year or 18 months” before it would seek trade support anyway. “If they go direct, they have to


simplify the product and if they do that, they minimise the opportunity for additional revenue. Nobody [in the cruise sector] has made an impact selling more than 15-20% of


a recorded message that said that it was not accepting any new bookings “due to operational changes”. It added, however, that all existing bookings would be unaffected. The group’s website also has a number for customers to call if they need assistance. CAA documents show the UK


operation was licensed to carry only 548 passengers for the coming year, suggesting that while the Pestana brand is still profitable, the UK operation was not a major contributor. It is thought that staff may have already been made redundant.


their business directly, because you can’t make cruise an easy 1-2-3 go purchase,” he said. The Luxury Cruise Company’s


general manager Scott Anderson agreed Virgin Voyages had little option but to work with the trade. “Cruise never sells well online unless clients know the cabin grades and the ship. If Virgin has the right suites and ambiance, we will sell it, but until we get more information, it’s hard to say.” Anneka Bones, tailor-made


consultant with Southern Cross Travel, said her agency would sell Virgin Voyages “depending on commission, training and trade support”, but added: “We would probably use other cruise companies first.”


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