September 14-18, 2020

SUMMIT REPORT In partnership with Future of Travel Week: Leading agency figures voice their views on the outlook for

Hays says tour arm will not dent agency’s independence


ays Travel says growth of its in-house tour operation will not dilute its role as an

independent travel agency. The company is aiming to open

its new office in Glasgow by November to support its tour operation, Hays Travel Tour Operating. The retailer has already recruited

98 staff from Travel 2, who faced redundancy following dnata’s decision to close its Glasgow office and merge Travel 2 into Gold Medal. Joint owner Irene Hays said the

company was assessing three possible premises in Glasgow and hoped to seal a deal for one and have it fitted out and operational by November. Hays will also base its cruise

We are very much an independent agent. Staff want to be able to sell Jet2 and easyJet Holidays as well as Hays

division, led by head of cruise Catriona Parsons, in Glasgow. The tour operation’s head office

in Sunderland has 150 to 200 staff. Joint owner John Hays stressed

the group would always be an independent retailer and denied it would adopt Tui’s vertically integrated model of selling almost exclusively its own product through its shops. He said: “We have increased the

Hoteliers tipped to shun exclusive deals with operators to reduce risk exposure

Hoteliers may in future seek to avoid the risk of signing exclusive deals with a single tour operator and instead enter partnerships with more-specialist operators or agents, industry leaders predict. Many hotels had their fingers

burnt as a result of working only with one key partner during the pandemic and following Thomas Cook’s failure. Abta chairman Alistair

Rowland, chief executive of Blue Bay Travel, said: “Hotels will be cautious about offering exclusivity to anyone, particularly any kind of operator that could pick you one season and drop you the next. “I see the model changing. It’s

more likely relationships will be in the ‘middle ground’ for anyone who can get an Atol or grow their Atol numbers. Distribution will be spread among more specialists and less generalists.” In a separate Future of Travel

Week session, Jet2holidays chief executive Steve Heapy made a similar prediction. He said hoteliers thinking

twice about exclusivity with tour operators would “increase competition”, “drive down prices” and “increase quality”. And he stressed Jet2, which

does not seek exclusivity on its hotel contracts, was “not frightened of the competition”.

percentage of in-house business but it’s still less than 50% [of sales through our shops]. We are very much an independent agent. Staff want to be able to sell Jet2 and easyJet holidays and sell the Hays tour operation as well. “We don’t see any conflict of

interest. We just want to get the best deal possible for our customers.” But Hays said the tour operation

had been “incredibly positive in terms of trading” because it offered a Peace of Mind Guarantee to customers over bookings affected by Covid. He added: “The potential to do

more is enormous, and even greater now that we have experienced tour operating staff. “We are really excited by it.”

John Hays: Shops and homeworkers could get a boost after Covid pandemic

Hays Travel has reaffirmed its commitment to the high street and is hopeful traditional agents could see a boost in business once the pandemic is over. Joint owner John Hays said: “We think people will always want to book

with real people. There will always be people who want to book with other human beings.” He added: “We feel that the high street, and homeworkers – the

personalised sector – could potentially get a boost from this.” Hays said the group received high client satisfaction ratings during the

pandemic from consumer advice site Money Saving Expert, whereas many online agents received ‘minus’ scores. “It’s been very difficult for all of us,

but what people value is having real people to look after them,” he said. “Our staff have worked fantastically

hard to save a holiday where possible. But if they couldn’t, it was about refunding as quickly as we could.” The number of Hays homeworkers

has increased from 300 to 400 since the start of the lockdown.

10 24 SEPTEMBER 2020

Hays Travel co-owners Irene and John Hays

Hays Travel in Ipswich

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