Thomas Cook failed due to “too little differentiation”, according to the boss of Tui.
Chief executive Friedrich Joussen told the Financial Times: “When you have no differentiation, you are head to head competing with the internet.
“People are fine with packages because it’s comfort. People are not fine with being treated like anybody else.”
Tui’s former rival collapsed in September after it failed to put together a restructuring package with its debtholders.
“For the remaining players, I think the short term is very clear. It’s positive. We have less competition,” said Joussen.
“But long term, that’s a question we need to ask ourselves: what happened and why it happened? And why we don’t want it to happen to us?”
Tui is increasing capacity by two million seats from the UK next summer and adding 135 former Thomas Cook hotels to its portfolio.
But Tui lost out in a bid for the Thomas Cook brand to Club Med owner Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate that was the failed travel group’s majority shareholder.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley last month downgraded Tui’s shares saying that the benefit from Thomas Cook’s collapse would not be “immediately obvious” as it depended on competitors’ reaction and consumer confidence in package holidays.
They added that the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max and Brexit would continue to weigh on earnings in 2020.
About 30% of Tui customers are opting to pay extra to book a specific hotel room – with options also including proximity to restaurants for parents using baby monitors.
The capability to offer personalised booking “is something which will change our whole company,” Joussen claimed.
Tui is pushing into the £150 billion-a-year activities and experiences market, following the acquisition of the online activity booking platform Musement last year for €35.5 million.
The number of Musement’s employees has been doubled to 260 with plans to expand the range of bolt-on holiday activities.
Joussen said he was not convinced by flygskam – or ‘flight-shaming’ – the movement started in Sweden, which is encouraging people across Europe to stop taking as many flights.
“It turns out that in the winter Sweden is very dark. And in the winter season, a lot of Swedes don’t want to sit in the dark. To Spain [on] a train is a long journey,” he said.
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