Lowcostbeds has recruited a business development director to focus on its trade relations, admitting the recent changes in the business had dented its “relationships with agents”.
Chief executive Paul Evans has appointed Andrew Nicholson to the new role, conceding the bed bank had “lost ground” in the last nine months following an overhaul that saw jobs cut in the UK.
That period included the departure of sales director Paul Riches, who joined rival Youtravel as managing director in November.
Evans, who embarked on a tour of the UK with Nicholson this week to introduce him to key agent partners, said: “UK trade is really important to Lowcostbeds.
“We have been internally focused for nine months, re-engineering the business, which has involved a lot of heavy lifting – everything from systems to our cost base, our business model and our people.
“We have changed 60% of our staff – which equates to 300 people – and moved to Krakow. It’s working out really well, but what you can’t do is lose that inter‑personal part with agents.
“Agents lost a bit of confidence; we accept that. It’s been quite a tough time. But the heavy-lifting is done and we are coming into the summer in much better shape.”
Evans said it was hard to quantify the impact on UK trade sales, because the loss of markets to Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia had also affected performance.
“Lowcostbeds has lost a bit of volume but not lost margin because we are selling more four and five-star properties,” he said.
Evans said Nicholson, who joined from French travel technology software provider Orchestra, was well-known in the trade and had the energy to rekindle agent relationships.
Evans revealed Lowcostbeds is also launching its “best-ever agent cash incentive” for May and June, adding: “We’ve never offered anything at this level before.”
Lowcostbeds has launched a new high-speed XML feed for the trade and will unveil a new agent website by June.