Medhotels to be Cook’s only trade bed bank

Medhotels is to become the sole bed bank brand for travel agents in a shake-up of Thomas Cook’s accommodation-only suppliers which will also see Hotels4U relaunched to be consumer-facing.

The move, which will happen on April 17, completes the integration of what were once the UK’s two largest independent bed banks, both bought by Thomas Cook in 2008 and 2009.

Teresa Walsh, Medhotels sales and marketing director, said the decision was made almost inevitable having migrated both brands to the same technology platform and due to the increase in agents using XML feeds.

She said with many agents’ technology providers limiting the number of XML feeds they can have, the move would help.

“Going down this route was not inevitable when we brought both companies together, but as a business we sat down to look at the options,” she said.

“When we looked at the way we transact with agents we realised it was almost impossible to keep the two brands.”

Walsh said because most agents are already using XML feeds with both brands there was little to distinguish the two and it was actually duplicating effort and slowing up response times.

“This decision was almost made for us with the way technology, and the way travel agents work with us, have both developed,” she added.

The vast majority of the combined business’ sales come from the trade and Walsh said there was no intention for that to change.

The decision to go with Medhotels as the trade brand was because this was the pioneer of the accommodation-only sector and had always been trade-focused.

Walsh conceded there might be some loyalty to Hotels4U but said analysis had found the vast majority of agents used both suppliers, suggesting there was little brand loyalty.

Access to will not change, but agents logging on to Hotels4U after April 17 will automatically be diverted to the Medhotels site, which will feature a new administration tool to help agents manage bookings.

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