Independent travel agents are revising their commercial arrangements with hotels4u.com following Thomas CookGroup’s acquisition of a 75% stake in the company last week.
While some agents are glad to see one of the big two travel companies backing the bed bank and offering it extra security, others are concerned that its loss of independence will prove detrimental.
Holiday Discount Centre managing director Steve Campion said the deal made hotels4u.com a more attractive bed bank to work with, adding: “If anything, it makes us more likely to work with hotels4u.com –when it was independently owned there were financial issues.
“Now it’s owned by a well-established name it gives us more security and Thomas Cook also has a good reputation for health and safety issues.”
But he admitted he would be concerned if Thomas Cook made the accommodation product available to consumers at a cheaper price than it was offered for sale through agents.
Meanwhile, agency Bookable Holidays stopped working with hotels4u.com following problems with over bookings. Managing director Jason Dwyer said the agency could review its contract with the bed bank depending on whether new owner Thomas Cook changed how the business is run.
He said: “I’m interested in the implications of this deal. If it is going to be run in the same way then it doesn’t matter who owns it.”
However, Kinver Travel owner Sue Foxall said she would be concerned if a recent decline in Thomas Cook customer service following the MyTravel merger affected the bed bank.
She said the independent ethos was important, adding: “We would rather go to some of the other bedbanks that are independent of the big two.”
Spa Travel partner Paul Dayson agreed independence is important, adding: “We are going to have to look at whether we want to support them or stop working with them.”
Hotels4u.com managing director Haim Perry said around 75% of all the bed bank’s sales are made through independents, while the fact that it is keeping its own staff and offices mean service should not be affected.
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