Tour operator and consolidator Major Travel has been acquired for an undisclosed sum and is to become 100% trade-only under its new owners.

Business partners Qasim Gulamhusein and Miqdaad Versi have taken an 85% stake in the north London firm, while existing directors Mark Widdowson and Panos Panayiotou retain 7.5% each.

Founder Widdowson has agreed to remain with the firm as chairman.
Mainly known as a US flight specialist, Major Travel will stop taking direct bookings, accelerate expansion of its range of destinations and focus more on packages and luxury tailor-made.

New managing director Gulamhusein said the opportunity to buy Major Travel came about as he was working as a business consultant.

“I thought it was a great business,” he said. “The travel industry is quite well-regulated and very hard to get into as a new player.

“Major Travel has a great reputation and its staff are unbelievable in terms of customer service. They have a lot of loyal clients.”

Finance director Versi said: “The first few months will be about consolidating what we have. We want to make sure agents see the value we bring to them and how we can improve what they do.”

Gulamhusein explained the decision to go 100% trade-only was part of a strategy to put its customers first. Currently 90% of what it sells is through agents.

“Anyone who has a trade and retail brand is effectively competing with their trade customers. We want to grow and help agents grow at the same time,” he said.

Versi said firms often assume they know what their customers want, but successful ones ask them and put their responses at the heart of their strategy.

“Cheap online booking will continue to grow, but many people want things to work for them and end-to-end service and support,” he said.