Thomas Cook and Bangkok-based Asian Trails will take business from, for example, AED which handles Scandinavians.
Large European tour operators muscling into new markets by setting up their own destination management companies could be a new trend, thinks TTG Asia, resulting in loss of business for local inbound agencies.
The idea is most exemplified by a new joint venture in Thailand created by Thomas Cook Group and Bangkok-based tour operator Asian Trails.
If this becomes a trend, it will make a serious dent in the profitability of inbound agencies, intensifying their need to diversify accounts – in this case Travel Center Asia, AED and Exo Travel, according to TTG Asia’s sources.
Travel Center Asia largely does the handling for Thomas Cook’s German clients, while AED is responsible for Scandinavians.
Thomas Cook In Destination Management (Thailand) will handle over 100,000 clients that the tour operator giant sends to Thailand each year, effective from November 1.
About a third of Thomas Cook’s clients to Thailand are from the Nordics and more than half are from continental Europe, with “small programmes out of the UK and France”, Michael Scheidler, Thomas Cook Group director for destination management told TTG Asia.
He declined to comment on why Thomas Cook Group did not set up the joint venture with its long-time partner Travel Center Asia.
Travel Center Asia’s managing director, Thomas Maurer, also declined to comment, only saying, “For the whole duration of our cooperation, Travel Center Asia does not give any kind of information at all.”
Control and profit
Scheidler said the main reason for Thomas Cook Group to operate its own inbound agencies is “greater control over the quality and consistency of service all our customers receive in destination”, although a source observed that a major motivation must surely be “a cut of the profit” by owning the ground handler.
“Such JVs are the future as they mean profit optimisation for large tour operators,” said the source.