London: TUI Travel, the world's biggest tour operator, said it significantly outperformed the wider British market in January as it benefited from rival Thomas Cook's troubles.
The group, which owns Thomson and First Choice, said yesterday it had seen an upturn in bookings because customers had lost confidence in Thomas Cook, which required emergency funding from banks in Nov-ember following a string of profit warnings.
"I think we are clearly a beneficiary of the uncertain environment that our competitor is operating in," Long told reporters. Thomas Cook said summer bookings were sharply lower in early January.
TUI Travel took advantage of its rival's difficulties: in the days following Thomas Cook's November statement it placed full-page advertisements in national newspapers which accentuated its relatively healthy finances.
"What we did at the time of their announcement was to make it very clear that Thomson and Thomas Cook are very different businesses under different ownership," Long said.
TUI Travel, majority-owned by German group TUI AG, said over a third of its summer holidays had been sold and it had seen a sharp rise in online bookings. Some 42 per cent of holidays were sold online, up six percentage points on the previous year, while average selling prices were up eight per cent, it said.
Long said TV campaigns promoting Thomson and First Choice, which offers only all-inclusive holidays, had led to a rise in the number of customers booking online. Shares in TUI Travel have risen by over 50 per cent since November, boosted by Thomas Cook's woes and speculation TUI AG will bid for the shares it does not already own.
- 42%: share of holidays TUI Travel sold online
- 8%: rise in averageselling prices