Low Cost targets European markets

Low Cost Holiday Group expects its new German business to outgrow the UK in three to four years after launching a .de website.

The move comes after its technology provider Intuitive, which developed the iVector dynamic packaging system, launched a new translation functionality for foreign sites.

Following a soft launch in Germany in April Low Cost plans to launch next in Switzerland, then Austria and the Benelux countries and Spain, France and Italy are also in its sights.

Low Cost sees European markets which are still dominated by traditional tour operators as prime targets for its dynamic packaging model. It is interviewing for a head of European operations.

Lawrence Hunt, Low Cost director, said: “We have got aggressive growth plans for Europe. There is a real opportunity in those markets to really break the mould in terms of how dynamic packaging is done in the UK.”

One of the issues in the German market is the low use of credit cards, but Hunt believes trends there will follow the UK. He said Mastercard has just launched a new product in Germany it believes will quickly gain 40% penetration.

If credit cards do not become popular, Intuitive will look at adding other payment methods like money transfer to the technology suite to help Low Cost break into the market.

Intuitive’s translation functionality allows companies to launch sites in any language quickly. The Low Cost German site was live after just two months development.

No marketing has been done around it yet, but it is taking around 20 bookings a day, Hunt said. Low Cost now has a small team in Germany to oversee marketing and man the phones.

 “We are on track for a million passengers in the UK and we think Germany will be bigger, probably in three to four years,” Hunt said who predicted Low Cost will have up to five foreign sites within a year.

Hunt said since the group switched platforms to iVector in 2008 business has “taken off” claiming passenger numbers are tracking at 140% to 150% up year on year. This is the first year Low Cost has a full year comparison using iVector.

All Intuitive customers are able to take advantage of developments of the iVector system but to date only one other French Tunisia specialist has chosen to do so, translating its site into English.

However, Intuitive expects others to make use of the functionality and to win new business on the back of it.

Andy Keeley, Intuitive commercial director, said: “Now we have cracked the multi-lingual solution it means any customers can create a new language version of their site in a fraction of the time it took to build the original.

“All our customers know that when they contribute to the development of iVector there is a shared platform and they gain just as much from other people doing developments in the system.”

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