Trade-only bedbank Bedswithease says it is on track for the best trading in its 15 year history both in passenger numbers and profitability.
The Broadway Travel Group owned accommodation supplier has seen 25% growth so far this year and reported it is on target to carry 200,000 passengers in 2016/17.
Some of the growth was put down to the demise last year of rival Lowcost Beds, part of the Lowcost Travel Group, but it is also benefitting from expansion in own-contract properties.
Currently 60% of what Bedswithease sells is directly contracted and having recently announced plans to increase its overseas buying team it expects that to rise to up to 80%.
This focus on overseas expansion will see the number of properties directly contracted rise from 2,500 to over 5,000 by 2019.
Paul Riches, sales director, said: “We are on target with our three year plan to expand both our product range and our distribution network in the UK, Ireland and across Europe.
“We have concluded some important new distribution deals over the last few months and we should be announcing new strategic partnerships, which will increase our distribution into other key European markets.
“We continue to receive excellent feedback from the trade, as we offer a UK-based trade support team.
“We will be looking to improve our trade support over forthcoming months as we make technical enhancement to our XML feed and launch a new look website following extensive feedback from our trade partners.”
Riches told Travel Weekly he was optimistic of a better lates trading period than last year with signs recently that the market has picked up.
Spain, Portugal and the Greek islands continue to sell well and there have been indications of a revival in the Turkish market. Croatia, Bulgaria, the US, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates have also all seen “substantial” year on year increases.
“Whatever way you cut it our trading position is good at the moment,” Riches said, “but everyone needs a good July and August. Our challenge, and everyone’s challenge is that while there are enough flight seats and pricing is low it’s the availability of rooms.
“If you take somewhere like Greece we will be strong because it’s a bit more reliant o traditional static contracts, but if you look at the Spanish islands and mainland Spain a lot more hotels are working with channel managers.”
However, Riches said offers from hoteliers are coming back in to the market particularly from Spanish hotels which have been holding back hoping to keep prices high.
“My hope is that we will see July and August come back after what has been a fairly flattish two or three months and some demand gets pushed into September and October so we see a longer season.
“We have the Euro exchange rate and the election didn’t help, there is a feeling of instability in the country, but last year we had the football and the referendum, so there’s always something you can blame.
“But we know that travel tends to be resilient and I still think we will get a strong late booking period. How it stacks up against last year, it’s very difficult to say.
“The challenge firms have in our part of the market is the cost of customer acquisition. There are so many people trying to drive clicks and calls it depends on where you place your money and your faith.
“It’s a bit of trial and error. The channel that worked last year is not necessarily going to work this year. It changes from one month to the next.”
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