Exclusive: Directline adds villas and domestic breaks

Directline Holidays has started to integrate Comtec technology as it looks to move into UK domestic breaks and villa holidays.

Chief executive Maria Whiteman said adding Comtec for packages to its existing Multicom deal brings the advantages of working with more than one supplier.

And she said Comtec has successfully made all its prices OFT compliant, an important move for villa sales, which require retailers to show the end per-person price even if the property will not be full occupancy.

Directline is working with Interhome – part of the same group that owns Inghams – taking inventory directly through an API. Interhome stock should be live on its main site by the end of this month.

Further stock will be added in due course, with more direct links planned with other suppliers and stock from Comtec and Multicom.

A new UK holidays site is currently in test phase. Initial suppliers include Hoseasons and Superbreak, with bed banks such as Jacob and Hotel Connect to be introduced at a later stage.

Whiteman said this was a reaction to last year’s UK holiday boom, due in part to the strength of the Euro: “It’s a great consumer acquisition because it’s potentially a slightly different consumer.”

Further suppliers are also being added to Directline’s main holidays site, including Lowcostbeds at the beginning of January. Both GTA and Kiss Flights are currently in test.

In December Directline launched online deposits and automated balance payments, which Whiteman said had improved conversions.

The retailer has also launched a live chat service that puts customers in contact with advisors and improved its FAQ section, which it will monitor using Google Analytics.

Whiteman also revealed Directline has started offering Paypal as a payment option. She said six bookings were taken through Paypal on its first day, adding that the service would open a “whole new marketing avenue”.

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