Tui UK has been focused on it for at least the last five years. Thomas Cook, a little slower off the mark, has been pushing it for the last two. The founders of Loveholidays’ clocked it back in 2012. And this week Saga Group became the latest company to adapt its strategy to it (p8).
Others on the high street (Woolworths, House of Fraser, and now Debenhams) might have realised it too late, but for a number of travel businesses, differentiation – whether in own brand products, or specialist knowledge - has been a core USP for the past decade.
This week’s news that the 240-year-old department store chain - focused on offering too much variety to apparently too few customers - was teetering on the brink of administration was a timely reminder of this.
Happily for the travel sector at least, differentiation has become increasingly important for travel agents wanting to stand out from the crowd.
Take Off Broadway Travel, winner of UK and Ireland’s No.1 Travel Agency in the TTG Top 50 Travel Agencies awards 2017. It launched a focus on weddings and honeymoons in 2006, which now account for 20% and 30% of their bookings respectively. Or cruise gurus Atlantic Travel, who only started concentrating on the sector in 2017 but whose turnover is now 40% cruise (p24).
It’s equally as rosy for those who specialise on the OTA side. Few could describe the incredible growth of Loveholidays for instance, as being anything less than impressive. Launching in an already crowded market, its two founders, who had no travel experience but a whole lot of tech knowledge, utilised “destination-less technology”.
The result? A 53% increase in the size of its Atol (p10), while this week it ranked an impressive number one in The Sunday Times list of Britain’s top 100 private companies with the fastest-growing profits (p4).
It clearly pays to be different.