Interview: Sam Turner, Wholesales Sales & Sourcing Director of Hotelbeds and Frank Wöller, Retail Travel Agents Director, Continental Europe of Bedsonline
Hotelbeds has been very active over the past year… bringing new brands and services “on board”. We asked Sam Turner, Wholesales Sales & Sourcing Director of Hotelbeds & Frank Wöller, Retail Travel Agents Director, Continental Europe of Bedsonline how business is progressing in general…
ST: We are at ITB confirming that the integration of Tourico Holidays and GTA into our wider business is progressing smoothly and quickly, in fact slightly ahead of schedule. Last October we announced the consolidation of the wholesale brands Tourico Holidays and GTA under the Hotelbeds brand name and in late September we also announced the consolidation of our retail brands (GTA, TravelCube and TravelBound) under the Bedsonline brand – in both cases also migrating the legacy customers onto the Hotelbeds and Bedsonline platforms.
We are therefore today as one company and, compared to last year, we now have a new and consolidated leadership structure, a much stronger sourcing team (now increased to over 1,100 employees globally), one single account management and billing point for all retail and wholesale clients – as well as a new product approach (including the launch of a Product Management department) and IT structure to boost innovation.
FW: Additionally, we decided at the same time to rename the ancillary product line, which Hotelbeds markets via its distribution channels, as ‘Beyond the Bed’. This includes the sourcing and distribution of transfers, activities, entrance tickets, theme parks, car hire, travel insurance and specialist tours. All these changes in our business form part of the long- term strategy we set out in 2018 to be the world’s leading bedbank. We still see the B2B bedbank space as highly fragmented and not delivering the travel trade the best value, but now that we have the most powerful product portfolio in the industry we feel that our partners are slowly beginning to bene t.
Please tell us a little more about your portfolio.
ST: The integration of the Tourico Holidays and GTA product into the Hotelbeds booking platform has allowed us to widen and reinforce our product offering. As a result, we have increased our hotel offering from 120,000 properties to up to 170,000 (90,000 of them sourced directly). Additionally, we also give access to over 24,000 transfer routes (in 140 countries, with +700 destinations) and +18,000 activities (in +200 countries with +700 destinations) and 140,000 car rentals to a network of over 60,000 clients worldwide – including airlines, points redemption schemes, bricks-and-mortar travel agents, tour operators and MICE operators.
Our booking platform handles peaks of more than 3 billion daily requests from users worldwide and more than 50 million room nights were sold last year.
How is Hotelbeds working to get more trade partners to the brand?
FW: 19 years in the bedbank space allows us to understand what really matters most for hoteliers and we are working hard to tailor our new offering – now that we are a bigger, combined company – even more to their needs. Therefore, our mid- and long-term strategy will be focused on helping hoteliers to maximize their distribution while reaching more customers to fill their rooms – accessing non-competing distribution channels such as airlines, tour operators, traditional travel agents and loyalty, employee & points redemption plans.
THE INTEGRATION OF THE TOURICO HOLIDAYS AND GTA PRODUCT INTO THE HOTELBEDS BOOKING PLATFORM HAS ALLOWED US TO WIDEN AND REINFORCE OUR PRODUCT OFFERING.
What makes what you so special?
ST: Our global presence – gaining bookings from over 60,000 travel buying intermediaries across 140 source markets provides access to hoteliers to a wide network of B2B travel buying clients. This enables hotels to maximise the distribution of their properties in non-competing channels such as airlines, points redemption schemes, tour operators, and traditional travel agents – channels that of themselves provide hotels with customers who book further in advance, cancel less, pay more, spend more once in destination and re- book more often. Who doesn’t want such a guest visiting their hotels?
Photo: Right – Frank Wöller, Retail Travel Agents Director, Continental Europe, Bedsoline
Left – Sam Turner, Wholesales Sales & Sourcing Director, Hotelbeds