Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Travolution@ITT - Part 8 - Biggs turns up the heat

So finally we have some meaty material for delegates to get our teeth into.

Sue Biggs, UK boss of Kuoni, is on stage for what seems like a cosy fireside chat with Michael East.

She has reaffirmed the long-haul operator’s commitment to selling 15% of holidays direct to consumers and admits to being on the acquisition trail.

Questions fly in from the conference floor about the general long-haul market (it’s growing “rapidly”) and how does Kuoni cope with world events like hurricanes, the tsunami and wars (they happen and the market copes “very well”).

There are others about commissions to travel agents – a thorny issue in the light of Thomson’s activities in the last year.

Biggs praises travel agents to the hilt but points out that their commission levels were lower than those paid by the big tour operators in the first place.

But light hearted moment of the session comes when Biggs is speaking about the type of holidays booked online.

While most industry people argue that consumers are still keen to carry out large transactions with an agent or at least a voice on the phone, Biggs admits that Kuoni recently took a single online booking for seven people to the Maldives, costing around £46,000!

Now that’s faith in the system…

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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