The former chief executive of Welsh miniple Tailor Made Travel has re-acquired the premises and staff of Blue Skies Travel in Whitchurch, Cardiff for an undisclosed sum.
Simon Morgan confirmed that the retail agency would continue to focus on high-value bookings, with a new mainstream brand called Flamingo Holidays initially operating via social media and web while a full OTA-structure is developed.
Tailor Made Travel entered administration on September 3, with the business subsequently acquired by Hays Travel. However, Morgan said he had negotiated the premises and staff of Blue Skies from administrators after Hays returned the licence to occupy.
He said: “I’m very pleased to confirm that I have negotiated the premises and staff of the Blue Skies Travel operation back from the administrator. In the meantime, we have been working on a new online and social media offering Flamingo Holidays.
“Our Flamingo Holidays offering will target the mass markets predominantly using social media and web whilst we structure and scale OTA technology for it.
“Blue Skies Travel will be a retail offering focused on the higher end of the market but we also plan to offer out of the box solutions for the thousands of great people out there that through no fault of their own have become unemployed. This will begin with a simple affiliate referral program and work up to a turnkey travel agency solution.”
Morgan said he would also develop Blue Skies’ cruise club over the winter, including nine websites focusing on individual partner lines. He said the cruise operation would primarily be fulfilled by homeworkers and affiliate workers. Morgan first acquired Blue Skies in April 2019 for an undisclosed sum.
He added that his broader plans for the business included shop openings and potential acquisitions, but said he would not be looking at expanding before the spring.
He said: “There is little doubt that when we do emerge from this crisis that the landscape of the travel industry will be changed. Right now is the time to adapt and move with these times watching, learning and focusing on the opportunities that are created.
“The high street is not dead. It’s changed. Some towns have thriving communities and some have lost huge numbers of retailers. This presents expansion opportunities as property rental prices are plummeting but you do have to measure this against similarly changing footfall figures.”
Speaking about the failure of Tailor Made Travel, Morgan said he “cried heaps” over losing the company, which had grown from one store to 20 in four years.
But he said the agency’s commitment to expansion meant it had foregone profits, and when the pandemic struck it was declined a business loan as it was unable to “predict when revenues would normalise”.
He added: “This hasn’t changed and looks to me like things are going to get worse before they get better. When you cancel and amend millions in bookings you have to refund not just the commission that paid the winter wages but also all of the card fees you’ve paid to take them. These don’t get refunded.
“We cancelled and rebooked around £25 million worth of bookings in the six months from March but there came a point where you begin to wonder whether taking a booking was in fact also taking on a liability.”
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