Approval of the acquisition of wholesaler GTA by Hotelbeds confirms the creation of a genuine B2B alternative to the oligopoly of the big two OTAs, according to the Spanish hotel rooms distributor.
Speaking to Travolution ahead of today’s regulatory approval of the deal, Hotelbeds Group executive chairman Joan Vilà, said hotels are looking for “less risky” alternative channels to market.
“We can now provide an extensive network of B2C intermediaries, tour operators and OTAs that want their product,” he said.
“For our retail clients they now have an option if they want to work less with the big players who are also their competitors. They have an option in the market.
“Of course we will be more efficient, and we will pass the benefits of this on to our partners and continue to invest in technology more and more.
“Many of the hotels tell us, and you read in the press, that they think it’s important to have volumes but it’s also important to have diversified distribution.”
Hotelbeds was sold in April last year by Tui Group for €1.2 billion to private equity backers Cinven and CPPIB.
Vilà said along with a change in strategy at former GTA parent Kuoni this unlocked much-needed consolidation in the sector and as well as GTA Hotelbeds has secured the purchase of Tourico.
The three firms coming together sees Hotelbeds’ double in size with an expected annual turnover of €7 billion.
“Now with these three companies coming together we will be number on in our space in all destinations and in all markets,” added Vilà.
“This is very important. We have a massive job ahead of us and we want to do as much as possible to make things easy for our partners. That’s our focus now.”
Vilà said the larger scale means Hotelbeds will be able to explore other business segments, with establishing a business travel arm a priority, and develop new technologies.
He said the core integration work will take around 18 months and that this was the main priority in the near term.
The integrated business will use Hotelbeds’ technology platform but the best bits of both Tourico and GTA will be retained, including talent.
This will see Hotelbeds maintaining more regional offices around the globe as it establishes a truly international footprint.
Today’s confirmation of regulatory approval of the deal came as Hotelbeds confirmed its leadership team.
Carlos Munoz retains his role as managing director bedbank with responsibility for managing the integration and finance director Andrés Garcia takes on responsibility for the larger group.
The group also confirmed leading travel technology executive Jose Antonio Tazón as senior non-executive director of the board of directors and chairman of the advisory committee.
Hotelbeds said this appointment reflected the group’s status as “both an independent and significantly larger company”.
Sources close to the company said, combined, the two deals to buy Tourico and GTA represent an investment of €1.3 billion.
It is estimated that the combined business will have 15% of the global B2B hotel distribution market. Its next biggest competitor in a fragmented market has only around 2%.