The boss of On The Beach says the business is ready for new legislation tightening regulation of online travel agencies (OTAs).
Chief executive Simon Cooper told TTG recent months had been characterised by the biggest shake-up of various regulations governing travel for decades.
“Looking ahead, it’s all about regulation change,” he said. “We’re not unduly concerned, but one has to be aware and mindful.
“In our world, we’ve had PSD2 in January, GDPR in May and the Package Travel Regulations in July.”
The new Package Travel Regulations (PTRs), due to come into force on July 1, will, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says, ensure OTAs have the same obligations in respect of consumer protections as traditional travel agents.
BEIS says the new regulations will protect an additional 10 million UK package holidays, while consumers will be made more aware of their rights at time of booking.
Abta says around half of all UK holiday travel arrangements, packages and flight-plus holidays, are currently financially protected.
The new PTRs though will classify more holidays as packages, including flight-plus, meaning greater protection for these holidays under the Atol scheme.
Cooper said while the new regulations would more rigorously regulate OTAs, On The Beach had been getting its house in order for some time, long before the industry had sight of the new PTRs.
“I’m not as concerned now as I would have been if this was 10 years ago,” he said. “The changes we have already made to our model have put us in a good position compared to other OTAs.”
There have been concerns around the industry’s readiness to comply with the new PTRs on July 1, with a number of leading industry groups supporting a call for enforcement to be delayed.
Meanwhile, Paul Meehan, On The Beach’s finance director, said On The Beach’s growth during the six months to March 31 - group profits up 15% and revenue up 19% - was evidence of an “ongoing migration” from offline to online business.
The OTA launched its responsive website six months ago and has recorded a 24% increase in unique visitors, up from 27.5 million to 34.1 million on the same period last year.
On The Beach now serves 60.7% of UK web traffic via smartphone, up from 52.7% this time last year.
“We’ve been working on it [the site] for some time,” he said. “It’s really improved smartphone performance.”