Hotels and Holidays the focus for Lastminute

Hotels, holidays and expansion beyond its south east stronghold will form the basis of a three-pronged strategy for growth for this year.

On Thursday the online travel agent hit Manchester for a “Go North” promotional event signalling its intention to broaden its geographical base of customers.

In addition, Lastminute wants to grow more lucrative hotels business and will introduce new technology this year for holidays, an area it has traditionally not focussed on.

Planned to go live by the second quarter, it has been built specifically for a deal it agreed with Thomas Cook last year to sell its holidays but other suppliers will also feature.

Existing technology requires suppliers to manually load their inventory but the new system is based on an XML booking system. Lastminute will sell both packaged and DIY holidays.

Andy Washington, sales director, said: “For this year it’s all about growth and increased marketing spend. We have a very good market share for flights and we want to retain that.

“But margins are more difficult to come by and we want to be selling hotels on the back of the flights. There is massive growth in the hotels market and it’s going online.

“Holidays is probably an area we have been really weak on but when we relaunch our technology platform we will go out and be really competitive in the holidays market.”

The new technology will also give Lastminute the ability to take deposits, something it does not currently do, and drive bookings with longer lead in times.

Some 70% of Lastminute’s customers live in London or the South East, Washington said, something a larger marketing budget will be spent addressing.

Lastminute will continue to push its growing lifestyle products driven by its healthy theatre tickets business and exclusive deals like the one it tied up with the O2 last year.


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