TUI’s announcement that it plans to sell its Specialist Holidays Group (SHG), which will be re-named “Travelopia” will have ramifications throughout the travel industry in the UK. Industry commentators predict that a private equity firm will be the favoured buyer, following the trend set by the recent agreement for Cinven and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to buy “Hotelbeds”, also from TUI. Hotelbeds, the market leading “beach bedbank” is largely run from Palma Mallorca, so the impact on staffing for the UK market is relatively neutral. However “Travelopia” is made up of many different businesses, many of which are based here in the UK. TUI’s investment strategy changed quite a few years ago when they reined in on buying up specialist travel businesses and started focusing on “mainstream” and investing in resort properties to create differentiated products, such as the hugely successful “Sensatori” concept.
Unleashing “Travelopia” and providing it with funding from private equity could well spark the beginning on another aggressive acquisition trail once the group is under new ownership. This coupled with new funds for growth within existing brands in the “Traveltopia” stable should only mean good news for job creation here in the UK. Travelopia already has a strong senior management team in place, but the business was constrained by headcount restrictions as TUI invested in “mainstream”. Once a buyer is confirmed, Travelopia is sure to become an exciting place to work, with growth plans on the agenda and funding to match. The UK travel industry continues to change and evolve, and never a dull place to be.
Ian Brooks, Co Founder