Der Touristik UK has revealed full details of its new B2C online tour operator brand; with boss Derek Jones insisting it will serve a separate market to Kuoni.
Meraki Travel, which was launched at the Abta Travel Convention in Seville on Tuesday, October 9, aims to make complex tailor-made trips “easy and fun” to plan, customise and book online, and is targeted at “late millennials”.
Meraki’s team of eight – which will likely grow next year – operates out of the former Kuoni store in Kensington High Street, London, which has been overhauled in the new brand’s style.
Customers can access the headquarters from the street, with the location featuring an experiential space with large touch screens and staff available to help advise on itinerary options.
It is not described as a conventional travel retail space though, and there are no current plans for additional locations.
Der Touristik UK said Meraki’s main differentiator was its online itinerary builder, which has been designed to be “simple and intuitive” with dynamic functionality. The brand’s general manager, Matt Hodgson, described the mobile and tablet optimised site as “quite gamified” in its feel.
India is the first destination available, with South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Canada and China all due to launch over the next few months. More will follow in 2019.
Meraki’s team, alongside its destination management companies, has curated the three-star and above hotels and experiences available, with the holidays sold under Der Touristik UK’s Atol.
Examples of “experience packs” on offer with Meraki in India – for which there are more than 1,200 different holiday variations – include Foodie, Active and Once-in-a-Lifetime.
The site features live pricing and itineraries can be saved, shared and paid for online, with travel documents saved on the site.
Derek Jones, chief executive of Der Touristik UK insisted to TTG that Meraki was targeted at a different market to Kuoni, Carrier, Kirker, CV Villas and Voyage Jules Verne.
“Creating a tailor-made trip purely online is still remarkably tricky, mainly as there are so many elements to get right, he said. “Many online brands still direct people to pick up the phone when it comes to booking.
“Meraki signals our ambitious plans to grow the Der Touristik group, which is why we have put a completely separate team [including marketing team] in place to lead it. We’re appealing to customers who don’t know or currently consider the Kuoni brand or our other specialist businesses.”
He added to TTG: “This is aimed at new customers, a new market.”
Hodgson said: “Having worked in tailor-made travel for the past two decades I know we’ve got a concept that’s got a clear space in the travel market.”
Meraki is a Greek word used to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love.