Roche joins LoveHolidays after parting company with Travel.co.uk

Roche joins LoveHolidays after parting company with Travel.co.uk

Former Travel Republic director Chris Roche has joined rapidly growing online travel agent LoveHolidays.com as chief commercial officer.

Roche left Travel Republic last year and initially joined Eysys and Comtec founder Simon Powell to spearhead the re-launch of Powell’s website Travel.co.uk.

However Roche parted ways with Powell in December and Powell said the future of Travel.co.uk was being reviewed.

Roche started at LoveHolidays.com on Monday as chief commercial officer, working alongside chief executive Alex Francis and chief operating officer Jonny Marsh.

Former First Choice Holidays and Thomson Holidays managing director Dermot Blastland is a non-executive director.

Roche said: “Loveholidays.com is growing fast and I’m delighted to be given an opportunity to join the team and hopefully add value.”

Roche was part of the management team at Travel Republic from 2007 where, alongside managing directors Paul Furner and Kane Pirie, they rapidly grew the business before a sale to Emirates owned dnata in December 2011.

Roche said he saw similarities between LoveHolidays and Travel Republic as they were both tech-driven OTAs which have built their own search capability.

But Roche said the tech at LoveHolidays was “unique” and would “power the aggressive and efficient growth” of the OTA.

He would not be drawn on current turnover levels or passenger carryings, but when Blastland joined last September, he said LoveHolidays was turning over more than £70million, was profitable and that about 19% of all bookings were made by people who have previously bought a holiday through the site.

Blastland also told Travel Weekly at the time: “LoveHolidays is doing really well in a very short time and getting quite big.

“It is investing a lot of its profits back into its growth and is doing something really quite interesting. You can do a normal search, if you know where you want to go and when, but you can also enter a budget and get a list of what’s available back.

“They do about a billion searches every morning and compile it all. It’s kind of emulating what Thomson does, but much, much wider as Thomson only gives you Thomson product.”

Former lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman is the chairman of LoveHolidays advisory board and Hays Travel owner and managing director John Hays sits on its board.

Roche said he remains on good terms with both Iain Andrew of dnata and with Powell of Travel.co.uk.

“It was a difficult decision to leave the Travel.co.uk project but I wish Simon, Humphrey [Sheil, Eysys chief executive] and the team the very best for future and I am pleased we parted on good terms”.

Powell said he was “working out the future for travel.co.uk” but that metasearch technology had been built for the domain to aggregate a number of OTAs in one single search.

The concept was to provide agents with a much-needed, new and highly qualified source of leads to help address spiralling costs of online acquisition from established channels.

He said it is possible that the technology could re-emerge in a business to business to consumer setting allowing other non travel price comparison sites like confused.com or Go Compare to cross sell travel.

Powell said the costs associated with trying to establish a new business to consumer metasearch site were “too prohibitive”.

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