‘Go North’ event heralds focus on UK regions signalled a move to match the virtues of local marketing and product sourcing with its global platform at its Go North event in Manchester on Thursday.

Lastminute UK managing director Patrick Hofstetter told Travolution he was delighted with the level of interest in the event, which attracted 220 suppliers.

Hofstetter conceded Lastminute has been London and southeast-centric, particularly with its high-profile “street” marketing, and that this has contributed to its lack of penetration in the regions.

He said around 10% of Lastminute’s traffic currently comes from regions north of London, a figure he expects to rise to 20% by the end of the year.

Manchester and Birmingham have been singled out as two areas ripe for expansion, but Lastminute also wants to increase its presence in Scotland and other UK regions.

“From a trade point of view this is a major event for us,” he said. “It comes after a lot of hard work that the team has been doing for many months to really expand our base outside London and the southeast.

“We want to have as many suppliers as possible. We have a very successful business model that has worked and is working in London.

“When I started last year we looked at feedback from customer surveys and focus groups and they wanted to have more local product.”

The move up north will allow Lastminute to not only serve regional customers better with lifestyle products in their local towns by UK and international travellers, Hofstetter said.

“One part of the business we are currently missing is that we are actually sending people to destinations where we do already have lifestyle product but we are not cross-selling.

“From a product contracting and marketing point of view we want to have an even more local approach but at the same time from a platform point of view it is global.”

The Go North event attracted a range of suppliers from theatres, restaurants, airlines, hotels and car rental companies.

Suppliers heard an address from chief executive Ian McCaig about the Lastminute vision before joining a series of workshops and a networking event.

The push into the regions will be backed by an increased marketing budget and dedicated account managers for regional suppliers.

Lastminute is the European brand of US giant Travelocity which is owned by Sabre and as a group it has 200,000 UK inbound customer annually.

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