It looks like the long wait for a decision from Worldchoice is almost over.
After months of negotiation, originally with Global Travel – subsequently bought by Stella Group – and then with the Travel Trust Association, the Worldchoice board has recommended its shareholders accept the TTA offer of £2.75 per share subject to due diligence.
We must now wait for the extraordinary general meeting, at which the shareholders will cast their vote.
While there are advantages to the Stella offer, it is difficult to see why the TTA deal would be rejected. The benefits to staff, shareholders and members are clear.
Firstly, Worldchoice staff can feel secure; there should be no job losses at head office as it will continue to operate in Peterborough (versus rumours it would be closed if Stella won the deal). In light of other industry consolidation, this is no small thing.
Secondly, Worldchoice shareholders will see a sound return on their investment.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Worldchoice members will receive access to TTA back-office systems, technology and expertise.
Members will retain the benefits of the Worldchoice brand, with the promise of investment in the combined group.
Also key is the fact that the partnership with Triton Travel Group should not be affected by this offer.
In addition, the TTA proposes a loyalty incentive for all members.
The Members Retention Trust Fund promises to reward agencies that meet certain criteria, based on profitability and performance, with a payment of up to £20,000 after five years.
The deal should give members more options, enabling them to offer customers greater choice and the all-important value for money. It will also free head office from the uncertainty of recent months and allow all concerned to focus on the future.
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