- Bit by bit, Thomson and First Choice are disappearing from shingles, collateral and advertisements as Tui, Europe’s largest tour operator, proceeds apace with the consolidation of what were once 200 hundred brands and microbrands into one Tui brand—a strategic decision made following the December 2014 merger of Tui Travel with its corporate parent Tui AG. Thomson had been a part of Tui since 2000. Tui merged with First Choice in 2007. The complete integration of all brands into the single Tui brand is slated to be completed by 2018. In the latest developments:
—Beginning with next month, staff working in-resort will come under the Tui umbrella.
—Part of the summer 2017 brochures for exclusive hotels such as Sensimar and Family Life will also be accompanied by the Tui name.
—The company’s newest ship, Thomson Discovery, has been renamed Tui Discovery.
- Scott Dunn Opens San Diego Office: London-based Scott Dunn has opened a sales office in San Diego, California as part of its global expansion. The luxury operator said the office will handle sales for the U.S. market but will also enable it to offer extended opening hours to guests calling from all around the world. Scott Dunn will initially employ 12 people in California but plans to double the workforce there within the next 12 months. The U.S. business will be led by John Spence, who will become Scott Dunn’s new president, North America, reporting to Scott Dunn CEO Simon Russell, who said North America already represents nearly 5 percent of sales.3. Wings Travel Management, a UK travel management company with global reach—it has offices in Houston, Texas—has acquired Grosvenor Travel Management for an undisclosed sum. The latter is based in London and reports an annual turnover of £70 million ($100.8 million). The two companies continue to sell independently for the rest of the year, with a view to consolidating the businesses under the Wings Travel Management brand in early 2017.
- Advantage, the UK’s largest independent travel agent partnership, has launched its own in-house tour operator. The company made the move as it looks to give partners more control over the product they sell. Advantage managing director Julia Lo Bue-Said used her speech on the opening morning of the group’s 2016 conference last week to formally announce the new venture. She also revealed Gateway 2, Advantage’s updated customer relationship management system, observing that “The development of Gateway 2 and the introduction of Advantage Holidays represent major investments in securing the future prosperity of the business for the benefit of both our members and business partners. And this only just the start of our exciting and ambitious technology journey.” The new software gives agents access to all Advantage’s product from a single dashboard.
- Claire Hazle has been appointed director of marketing and e-commerce—it is a new position—for Cosmos Tours and Avalon Waterways. Hazle. Who will join Cosmos in June, has been head of digital at Marie Curie. Previously, she worked at Carnival between 2011 and 2014. Also in the UK, Grant Hearn has been elevated to the role of chairman at Shearings, replacing Phil White. Shearings has just been acquired by the private equity firm Lone Star Funds. Hearn is a former chairman and chief executive of Travelodge, and is already chairman of Lone Star’s Amaris Hospitality business. He has also held non-executive roles at Poundland and Scandic Hotels.