Travelopia is trimming its business down from the 53 brands it had when it was sold by Tui to about 10, while looking to develop its trade relationships across the board.
Andy Duncan became chief executive of Travelopia last June, a year after it was sold to investment firm KKR for €369 million.
Speaking at the Abta Travel Convention, Duncan acknowledged that “for a long time” [before the KKR acquisition] there hadn’t been much investment in Travelopia, with it “left in a corner”.
But after spending time carefully looking at the business, Duncan and his team have decided upon the final brands that will remain with the brand – across six areas – and indeed to be invested in; with all changes expected to be complete within a year.
The brands retained by Travelopia will be: The Moorings and Sunsail under the yachts division; Quark Expeditions (sold through Exodus) under polar expeditions; Exodus under adventure; jet company TCS under luxury; Le Boat under canal; and Hayes & Jarvis, Sovereign and Citalia under upmarket tailor-made. Enchanting Travels, MyPlanet in Scandinavia and American Holidays in Ireland will also remain.
“There was a problem in the group and in the sales process when I first joined trying to explain what the company was all about,” Duncan said.
“There were some divisions that just didn’t fit the rest of the group and would have better homes elsewhere.
“Other brands were actually quite weak and the danger was they were being treated in the same way as the strong brands.”
Instead, money has been invested into technology – but that’s not to say Travelopia is on a direct-sell drive.
In fact Duncan said he wanted to raise the profile of all its brands among travel agents.
“The digital investment I talked about [£30 million] was primarily around data and internal systems,” he said.
“All of our businesses rely on a balance of direct and trade. That balance needs to remain.
“In every case with all of our brands we’re looking to develop relationships with the trade more.
“There are some legacy relationships with Tui that got in the way of us building the right relationships with some of the other trade partners.
“Growing the trade is as important [to Travelopia] as growing direct.”
Duncan told TTG that there would be – and has already been – investment in Travelopia’s trade sales teams.
He further revealed the business would be looking to acquire new businesses “that fit within the framework”, likely in the “active experiential” space.