Kuoni reveals online booking channel stats

Kuoni has revealed that 16% of tour operator bookings across the group are taken via the web as it looks to increase direct bookings.

The group breakdown shows that the majority of its tour operator bookings are direct, although 49% is still shifted through third parties. With the web accounting for 16%, call centres chip in with 17% while its own shops account for 18%.

Its strongest online market is Scandinavia, where 42% of bookings come via its consumer-facing web sites. In the UK, 57% of Kuoni bookings are direct, although call centre is the primary channel the proportion of UK bookings online is not disclosed.

However, it appears that 43% is still too big a slice to shift through third parties, as it plans to continue to grow its direct channel business in the UK, developing a team to concentrate on picking up business in the lates market.

The financial performance of the UK has been impacted by a 17% depreciation of sterling against the Swiss franc.

The UK still managed earnings before interest and tax for 2008 of CHF31.1m (19.1m), a drop from the CHF43.9m made in 2007.

However, it said that costs have been substantially reduced to stem the margin decline. Kuoni also acknowledged that the UK is the first of its major source markets to be hit by the economic slowdown.

In January this year, Kuoni announced a three year investment and cost reduction plan, with strengthening its electronic distribution channel a key priority. Kuoni hopes that this will not only reduce distribution costs and increase turnover over but also open up new customer segments.

The results also showed that the losses from and costs of closing its Shoestring brand came in at CHF18.5m (11.3m).

More information:

* Kuoni results
* Kuoni results investors’ presentation [PDF]

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