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Thomas Cook takes over Kuoni Travel network: Long-term marriage or brief affair?

Thomas Cook takes over Kuoni Travel network: Long-term marriage or brief affair?

Thomas Cook has been closing down more and more retail outlets around the globe as a result of customers making their own travel arrangements online. In the UK, the travel agent’s number of brick-and-mortar establishments has dropped from 1,240 to 701.

Despite this world trend, Thomas Cook India has just bought Kuoni Travel’s destination management company (DMC) network which consists of AlliedTPro US, Asian Trails, Australian Tours Management, Desert Adventures/Gulf Dunes Middle East, and Private Safaris Africa.

While India’s business model is different, the sub-continent does have similarities with the UK in that it has a huge digitally-proficient traveling market that is capable of directly booking travel products via airline and online travel agent (OTA) websites.

India is a strong feeder market for Asean tourism along with China, recording impressive annual growth. In Thailand for instance, India accounted for 1.19 million arrivals in 2016, growing 260% in 10 years.

At the recent Arabian Travel Market, Benjo an Laar Hoven, Chief Executive Officer of Prizm, addressed the summit on April 25, 2017, advising traditional agents to meet their clients online and on social media in order to safeguard business, as regional Internet connectivity and social media use continues to soar.

However, at the event, it was noted that traditional travel agencies have an opportunity to re-capture the market share previously lost to OTAs by converging operations to digital and social media platforms. After years of tough competition with OTAs, traditional agencies are re-gaining popularity as travelers seek out bespoke service and specialist advice over discounted deals.

Only time will tell if this move by Thomas Cook will be a long-term marriage or a brief affair.