Lowcost Travel Group chief executive Paul Evans is looking to capitalise on a “ballistic” improvement in its trade business with a consumer relaunch by the end of the year.
While declining to go into details, Evans told Travolution that the B2C offer is currently being redeveloped in time for a major push to coincide with an expected surge in direct bookings.
“In an economic downturn people will want to book low cost so we’ll make sure we use the name,” he suggested, adding that it had registered around 450 URLs based around the phrase ‘low cost’.
“This year we’ve been focussing on growing the trade business,” he said, admitting that “maybe we were a bit slow off the mark”.
Evans was talking after announcing that accommodation-only sales through the UK trade via lowcostbeds.com were set to break through the £10 million barrier this month, equivalent to a 150% year-on-year hike.
“We changed our system in April,” he said, “and once we’d got all the connections in place, bookings went ballistic. June was 100% up, July’s looking like 150%.”
The trend towards non-eurozone destinations is reflected in the figures, with Turkey up 147% year-on-year. But Evans was quick to point out a good return from the Balearics (+47%), mainland Spain (+37%) and Greece (+53%).
Speed is the key to the new back-end, Evans claimed, including the speed of the search results as well as the speed of getting newly contracted suppliers into the system in the definition.
He also talked about a “polarisation of consumer demand” with self catering sales 127% ahead and all inclusive 143% ahead.
He explained: ‘Self catering went out of fashion a few years ago because the mark-up on all-inclusive was producing better margins. But there’s been a degree of commoditisation within all-inclusive, and the result is that it’s now worth selling self-catering because the margins are comparable.
“What’s really suffering is the traditional half-board option,” he warned.