New boss Garry Wilson, who joined EasyJet Holidays from Tui earlier this month and has 20 years’ experience in the holiday sector, will lead the charge.
In its full year results, released on Tuesday (November 20), easyJet said it would invest heavily in its holiday division during 2019 and into 2020.
“EasyJet sees a big opportunity to radically change its holidays offering, based on its existing network of destinations and frequencies, efficient low-cost operations, its unique customer base, strength of brand and the ability to develop a customer experience aligned with the easyJet core offer,” said the airline.
“Currently, there are 20 million existing customers who fly to easyJet’s top 29 destinations by market share, of whom only 500,000 book a hotel through easyJet.
“This is an opportunity for easyJet to extend its reach in the wider travel value chain through the offer of accommodation and other services, with investment taking place in 2019 and 2020.”
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren, who like Wilson joined the airline from Tui, has since his appointment last November spoken of his ambition to grow the airline’s holidays division.
Speaking at the Abta Travel Convention last month, Lundgren said easyJet Holidays would be open to working with travel agents, but ruled out pursuing a Jet2holidays-esque business model.
Wilson, meanwhile, upon his appointed, said he wanted to transform easyJet Holidays into a “serious player” in the holiday market, echoing Lundgren’s admission earlier this year the airline had “failed to take advantage” of opportunities in the holidays sector.
The airline’s vision for its holidays division involves: refining its current business model to capture more value through the customer journey; building the required infrastructure to curate its product offering; developing new, direct relationships with hotel partners; refining pricing and yield management structures to ensure it remains competitive and attractive on price; and building value from “bundling and vertical integration” of the holiday experience.
EasyJet says it has a market share, a frequency and cost position on certain destinations and routes “no one else can match”, something it intends to leverage to grow its holidays division.
Data and digital services will underpin this growth, with the airline pledging to develop its website and booking processes to add “data-driven customisation”.
“By combining a quality, great value hotel offer with the flexibility of multiple frequencies to major European destinations, we will deliver a better value experience for our customers,” it said.
“EasyJet's core focus will remain airline services, but the holidays offering incorporates other aspects of the customer journey which can be sold to a customer base that is well aligned and has high capacity and frequencies on beach, city and ski destinations.”
The airline expects to launch its “total customer offer” in late 2019.
EasyJet Holidays launched in 2011 selling flights and accommodation in partnership with the Lowcost Travel Group. In May 2014, easyJet Holidays switched supplier to Hotelopia and vowed to become one of the UK’s pre-eminent tour operators.
The announcement in May that Wilson would follow Lundgren to easyJet was followed in July by confirmation the airline had acquired an Atol for the first time, initially protecting 184,994 holidays.
EasyJet said this allowed it to continue selling protected flight and car hire bookings under the new Package Travel Regulations. Its holiday division has, since 2014, been covered under Hotelopia’s Atol.
However, Hotelopia’s Atol was wound down to zero protected seats earlier this year. EasyJet’s own Atol, meanwhile, has been extended to 705,020 protected seats for the period to September 2019.