Hoteliers may look to snub tour operators’ requests for exclusivity after being left “high and dry” during the Coronavirus crisis, says the boss of Jet2holidays.
Steve Heapy, who pointed out Jet2 does not ask for exclusivity when making contracts with hotels, said increased competition would lower prices and increase the quality of product.
He said hoteliers may think twice about allowing operators to “hoover-up” properties on exclusive deals, promising to fill the rooms after they had been “dropped like hot potatoes” during the pandemic.
Jet2’s strategy has never been exclusivity, said Heapy, who added that he “doesn’t mind competition”.
He said some hoteliers, particularly those who had rebranded to become a concept hotel for their tour operator partners, would be “very nervous” about making similar deals in the future.
“At the end of the day we have a partnership,” said Heapy, who was in Cyprus while filming the Future of Travel Week session. He stressed it was important to “be honest” and “treat [hoteliers] with respect”, while planning for the best and worst case scenarios.
Asked if the pandemic will change the relationship between tour operators and hoteliers in resorts, he said “disappointed hoteliers” who have been left “high and dry” would “look at how they’ve been treated by their partners”.
He said hoteliers thinking twice about exclusivity with tour operators would “increase competition”, “drive down prices” and “increase quality”.
“We’re not frightened of our competitors,” he added. “We don’t try and stop them turning up to the fight. We’re in the ring waiting for them. And you know, we we’re not scared of competition, it’s healthy.”
Asked about the relaunch of former rival Thomas Cook as an online travel agent, Heapy said it was “another operation in the market” but ruled out Jet2holidays selling via the platform.
“I’m not sure about the Thomas Cook brand, whether people would automatically be drawn to that, because it’s an old brand. The Thomas Cook brand, unfortunately, ceased treading under circumstances that led to a number of customers, suppliers, hoteliers, whoever else, perhaps losing out financially and there was quite a lot of negative PR before their collapse.
“I don’t think it will necessarily bounce back because it’s an old brand. No brand has the rights to exist eternally. Brands come and brands go. It might be 160 years old, but sometimes they just go. Let’s see.”
Heapy pointed out that the revied Thomas Cook was “another OTA” so doesn’t own its own aircraft or hotels. He said he wasn’t worried and that “competition is good”.