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02 Sep 2015

BY Edward Robertson

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TRFBLI

Exclusive Escapes 'too specialist’ to survive

The collapse of Exclusive Escapes is unlikely to be the first of a rash of failures among Turkey specialists, members of the trade believe.

 

In a statement following the demise last week of the Turkey villa specialist, managing director Andrew Lee said two years of difficult trading had caused problems which became insurmountable this year in the wake of the Tunisian beach shootings and Turkey joining the war against Isis.

 

However, while others in the industry admitted both factors have caused issues, they argued the operator’s business model ultimately proved key to its failure. Association of Atol Companies legal advisor Alan Bowen said he believed the operator’s two weekly whole plane charters, with a British Airways flight out of Heathrow and Titan Airways out of Stansted’s private terminal, would have been costly.

 

He added: “You can’t afford to have whole plane charters in a season when business isn’t great; the flights weren’t on Monarch at 3am on a Monday, they were BA on a Saturday. Unfortunately they became too specialist. It is great to have a niche but when times are hard it is not great to have whole-plane commitments.”

 

Travel Trade Consultancy director Martin Alcock also argued that in a bid to secure the best villas, suppliers’ demands for likely bigger initial payments could have proved costly. Turkey in late August should be the absolute peak time… so they should have been swimming in cash,” he added.

 

“I don’t think it is the start of a trend [of more collapses]. Any operator that operates exclusively in a destination will always have a weakness.” Akin Koc, managing director of Turkey specialist Anatolian Sky, said his company’s own business to the country was down, but would not say by how much.

 

He added that the operator’s survival had been made possible by its inclusion of new destinations such as Croatia, which was 40% up year-on-year, while Madeira had been boosted by 50%. Koc said while many of Exclusive’s accommodation suppliers would have worked with the operator to try to save it, more must be done to educate the British public about the safety of the Turkey as a destination.

 

Meanwhile, Alcock warned the firm’s demise could leave a hole of up to £4 million in the Air Travel Trust Fund as more than 2,000 consumers were impacted by the collapse.

 

POLL: DO YOU THINK EXCLUSIVE ESCAPES WILL BE THE ONLY COMPANY AFFECTED BY ISSUES IN TURKEY?

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