Mintel predicts demise of family-run coach operators

SMALL family-run coach companies are likely to disappear as the
industry’s giants embark on a strategy of vertical
integration, according to new research.

The Coaching Holidays report by market research company Mintel has
predicted the coaching sector will dramatically reduce in the
future with “small family businesses falling by the

It follows the recent announcement of a merger between coach
operators Wallace Arnold and Shearings, still to be approved by the
Office of Fair Trading. The new company will carry one million
passengers annually.

Mintel experts believe larger coach companies could purchase hotels
and niche transport firms to increase their position in the market.
It said operators need to target specific sectors of the market
– such as luxury or budget tours – to remain

More worrying for coach firms, the report predicts it will be
difficult for operators to expand their customer base. Its poll
found only 15% of holidaymakers who have not been on a coach
holiday would consider going on one.

Sales through travel agents are also set to decline with more
consumers booking direct, according to Mintel. However, Internet
bookings only make up a maximum 5% of coach bookings. Despite this,
the future for the coach market is not all bad news, with growth
predicted for this year. The total number of coach holidays
predicted for 2005 stands at 8.2 million – 5.9 million in the
UK and 2.3 million abroad. This compares to 7.9 million last year
– 5.8 million in the UK and 2.1 million abroad.

Mintel described the predicted rise as a “tentative
comeback” for the sector.

Destinations likely to see growth in this market include Eastern
Europe. “Eastern European destinations such as the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia offer new experiences and a
sense of adventure as well as low prices,” said the

The Mintel report questioned the trade as well as consumers to
gauge the future of coaching holidays.

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