Consolidation in the travel industry
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As we have seen in the news this week with the merger of Thomas Cook and the Co-operative Group's High Street travel businesses, further consolidation in the travel industry was inevitable after a very difficult year.
There have been significant tour operators failing recently and, when any such operator folds, holidaymakers can be in a very difficult position. Over the summer there were plenty of stories of hotels wanting money from holidaymakers where they had paid for everything when they purchased the holiday. It is important that holidaymakers buy their holidays from a tour operator that is solvent so that there are no problems when they get away.
A mixture of the volcano, the world cup and the recession caused reduced numbers of holidaymakers. Internet sales are also moving customers from the High Street. Rather unwisely, some tourists choose to buy each part of their holiday, such as the flights and hotel, separately. This rarely gives the tourist the protection of the Package Travel Regulations, which is vital should anything go wrong whilst on holiday. A package holiday where the flights and hotel are bought for a single price can give the holidaymaker a great deal more protection. A lot of consumer protection is geared around the package holiday sold by the likes of Thomas Cook and the Co-Operative Group. It is important that consumers understand that protection and continue to buy their holidays from the likes of Thomas Cook and the Co-Operative Group to have that protection.
There will be overlap in the products presently sold by each of the organisations, such as holidays but also travel insurance and foreign exchange, and it will be interesting to see how the merger affects others in the industry who currently provide these services to either Thomas Cook or The Co-Operative Group. Hopefully the merger will provide a firm foundation for the future as the economy picks up and we all start buying more holidays.
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