“Big Two” to Focus on Core Values

Thomas Cook and TUI may become more different in the coming years.

As they battle a difficult market, Europe’s two biggest tour operators Thomas Cook and TUI will revert to their core values and diverge rather than compete on precisely the same ground. This was the viewpoint expressed by Ian Ailles, managing director of European rentals for Wyndham Exchange and Rentals, during a debate on the outbound travel industry at the 34th annual conference of the Association of Independent Tour Operators in Brussels this week.

The two companies’ differing psychologies will define their different directions in 2011 and 2012, he said – TUI as an operator, owning hotels, and its long-term rival as a retailer, a demonstrated by the merger in the UK proposed recently between Thomas Cook and another strong retailer The Co-operative Travel. Independent operators should not see this as a threat, since “If independents have a good clear proposition that’s not in competition with the mainstream then Cooks and Co-op will look to sell it.”