But for Simon Cooper, chief executive of On the Beach, the addition of Classic Collection is the perfect marriage of two brands with a similar core offering. And it’s hard not to see his reasoning.
Central to both is beach holidays. That one specialises in B2C bucket and spade sales while the other focuses on a more luxury B2B offering are nuances that should not concern the trade. Or so says Cooper (page 5 of this week’s TTG).
The company’s announcement of a B2B trade portal offering access to both Classic Collection and On the Beach’s product does seem to support this.
And in an environment where the new Package Travel Regulations have created greater risk for agents wanting to dynamically package, the launch of a new B2B operator enabling agents to do just that under financial protection provided by the On the Beach group surely has to be good news?
The real surprise was not in the deal itself, but that the buyer was another travel firm – a move that’s become a rarity. As we explore this week, it is private equity rather than travel businesses which has been snapping at the heels of the industry (pages 10-11 of this week’s TTG).
The reason, says one analyst, is that travel has demonstrated its “resistance to shock”. And given the challenges of the past decade (terrorism, company collapses, ash clouds and hurricanes to name a few), it’s difficult not to agree.
Perhaps this explains the figures released this week showing a 30% decline in the number of travel agencies and tour operators going out of business in the past five years.
Not long ago, headlines were screaming the demise of these same businesses. Life’s not always a beach in travel, but its ability to ride the wave of change is what keeps it going.